Plans to help householders cope with energy costs ‘woefully inadequate’

National Energy Action said the increase to Ofgem’s energy price cap meant the cost of heating an average home will have doubled in 18 months.

Josie Clarke
Thursday 03 February 2022 13:30
A homeowner turns down the temperature of a central heating thermostat (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A homeowner turns down the temperature of a central heating thermostat (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Government’s plans to help households cope with soaring energy bills are “woefully inadequate”, fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) has said.

NEA’s comments followed energy regulator Ofgem confirming that its energy price cap will rise by 54% from April 1.

NEA said the increases meant the cost of heating an average home will have doubled in 18 months, while numbers in fuel poverty will soar from four million to 6.5 million households across Great Britain in six months.

These energy crisis measures are woefully inadequate and will leave those on the lowest incomes and in the least efficient homes in deep peril

National Energy Action

The Government has announced that energy suppliers will be provided with loans to give rebates of £200 to each household alongside support via council tax rebates for householders in bands A to D.

But NEA warned that the Government’s proposals would not “avert devastation to health, wealth and wellbeing for millions of the poorest households”.

NEA chief executive Adam Scorer said: “These energy crisis measures are woefully inadequate and will leave those on the lowest incomes and in the least efficient homes in deep peril.

“We needed deep, targeted support for the most vulnerable. We have shallow, broad measures for all. That simply does not work.

“The depth of support is not proportionate to the increases. A household paying by prepayment will still have a £500 increase when you take into account rises from October 2021 and April 2022.

(PA Graphics)

“The rebates on bills and council tax are not sufficiently targeted, too small and too complex.

“We expect the Government will have no choice but to return to the issue of spiralling fuel poverty and another price rise later this year. By then they’ll be playing catch-up and great harm will already have been done.”

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said older people on low and modest incomes would be “badly shaken” by the announcements.

She said: “With average energy bills now set to rise by a whopping £693 per year – and almost certain to increase further in a few months’ time – the support the Chancellor has announced simply does not go far enough. It will still leave many of these pensioners facing energy costs surging by an extra several hundred pounds that they cannot afford to pay.

“What does the Government expect them to do? Forgo their heating, ration their food or go into debt? These are the only choices that millions of the less fortunate will face, if they have no savings to draw on or family to help them out.

“Tough and stoical though they typically are, many older people will be badly shaken by the news they are hearing today. There’s no doubt it will lead to many more turning their heating down or off altogether, because they will know these price surges and the Chancellor’s inadequate response signals a crisis in their personal finances, with no end apparently in sight. The Government must urgently think again and do more to help them.”

Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children said: “Soaring energy prices are the latest battle for low-income families already locked in a permanent cost of living crisis. We welcome the Government is taking action, but the proposals outlined today are poorly targeted.

“Just over 100 days ago, the families we help lost £1,000 a year in Universal Credit, and will now have nearly £700 a year added to their bills. The help announced for these families today won’t be enough. We’re going to see more children going hungry as parents struggle to make ends meet.

“The best way to help those most affected, such as low-income families with children, is through the benefits system, rather than council tax, which is measured on out-of-date property values, not on income.”

The charity Electrical Safety First urged householders who were considering turning to portable plug-in heaters to reduce costs to be cautious to reduce the risk of fire.

The charity’s chief executive, Lesley Rudd, said: “Consumers have real concerns about the cost of heating at this very difficult time and we anticipate millions more will turn to portable plug-in heaters in order to reduce costs.

“Our research has shown millions are set to heat single rooms in their home rather than turning on the central heating system as the cost of energy soars.

“We urge consumers to be cautious when using plug-in heaters to reduce the risk of fire. Never leave plug-in heaters switched on and unattended and ensure they are kept away from flammable fabrics.”

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