Simon Read: Energy price changes are set to hit more people than ever. It's wrong
People on the lowest income brackets will suffer most from the current round of energy price hikes. Debt charity Christians Against Poverty reports than many of the people it helps are surviving on a meagre £12,000 a year average income.
That leaves little room for flexibility huge energy bill increase can leave many unable to afford to pay to heat their homes. It leads them to have to make the drastic choice of whether to buy food or turn the boiler on. In stark terms, they have to choose whether to heat or eat.
It's a situation you might expect to find in an emerging country, not in Britain. The latest to suffer will be customers of SSE – formerly Scottish and Southern Energy – who were hit with an 8.2 per cent price rise yesterday that will see average annual duel fuel bills climb to £1,380.
CAP chief executive Matt Barlow said: "When people in such fragile situations are forced to cope with increased gas and electricity costs, you know that families will live in unheated homes this winter.
"When you think that some of that housing will be inadequate, you start to understand it's a very distressing picture."
And things are not going to get any better. Gas, electricity and water bills will continue to rise by more than inflation for another 17 years, the National Audit Office warned this week. It blamed the future price rises on the Government's decision to load two-thirds of the £310bn cost of infrastructure projects needed to maintain energy and water supplies on to customers' bills rather than fund them through taxation.
It predicted that the average household energy bill will rise by 66 per cent – from roughly £1,290 this year to £2,135 by 2030. Meanwhile water bills could leap by 80 per cent – from £388 this year to £698 in 2030.
Even before the current round of increases, many people are still struggling to pay their energy bills. In fact one in twenty gas or electricity accounts was behind in payments to their energy supplier last year, according to regulator Ofgem.
Some 1.3 million electricity accounts and 1.1 million gas accounts – 5 per cent overall – were in debt last year, according to the regulator's annual Social Obligations Report.
The average debt for a single fuel account last year was £457.13 and it took 77 weeks – just under a year and a half – to clear.
So we have rising bills and rising energy debts. And despite the government claiming it will increase support for families who cannot afford to heat their homes, Government spending to tackle fuel poverty actually fell to its lowest level last year.
In October the Government promised that by 2014-15 it would be pumping more cash into fighting fuel poverty than in 2009-10, before the coalition came to power.
In fact, in 2012-13, Government spending on energy efficiency for the fuel poor plummeted by more than half from its 2010-11 peak, according to analysis from the Energy Bill Revolution. It claims that by 2014-15, spending on fuel poverty will still be more than £800m below the levels seen at the end of the last Labour government, contradicting the claim made to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.
Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, said: "It is scandalous that last year with soaring heating bills and freezing cold temperatures our government spent less than ever on fighting cold homes." He's called for the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement on 5 December to increase investment in energy efficiency, to help get a grip on fuel poverty. Let's hope Mr Osborne is listening.
Fuel poverty could kill 100,000 vulnerable people over the next 15 years, charity warns
Bargain Hunter: Affordable art - suddenly being a collector is just a walk in the park
Phoenix Life: Chance of a refund for overcharged policyholders has risen
Simon Read: You're guilty until proven innocent when HMRC sends in the tax credit detectives
Simon Read: That's right, BT, they'd rather pay for a free service
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...
£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...
£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads