As the cost-of-living crisis continues, research shows that renting households can’t afford to put the heating on at all this winter.
On top of this, analysis suggests that the energy price cap will rise by five percent and be set at £1,931.25 from January to March 2024, up by nearly £100 on the current level of £1,834.
One mother is worried what will happen once the actual decision is announced as she already struggles to keep up with bills.
The energy bills crisis is now predicted to be so severe that a wide range of health, poverty, housing and environmental organisations and academics have written to the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt MP, to request the introduction of an Emergency Energy Tariff.
Among those who will have to cut back on essentials to afford their energy bills or can’t afford them, the plans for an Emergency Energy Tariff would provide them with enough financial support to enable them to avoid the worst of the winter crisis, new research commissioned by the Warm This Winter campaign suggests.
Jessica Ward is mum to toddler Cece and lives with her partner in Congleton, Cheshire. Her energy supplier is Scottish Gas and they currently pay £326 by direct debit monthly.
If the energy price cap is confirmed to rise by five percent, Ms Ward is worried about what this means for her monthly bills.
She said: “We have an old boiler and because we’re renting we’ve not been able to change it although our landlord has said she will fit a new one if we commit to a longer stay.
“It does impact us. It means we can’t have a smart meter and I also worry about the inefficiency of it and what will happen if there’s another huge energy hike which looks like it might happen.
“All the mums are worried about it when we meet up. It’s not just energy, it’s everything going up and we made our decision on spending more on bills rather than rent, but it does feel like you’re on a knife edge and it shouldn’t be like that.
“Families should know they can have a safe, warm, house. We’re OK for now if work does well, but you do worry.”
The Emergency Energy Tariff would use the existing Energy Price Guarantee mechanism to fix the unit costs and standing charges for vulnerable groups at a lower level.
Campaigners have suggested that this is fixed at the levels of energy bills in winter 2020/21, which would see eligible households’ monthly energy bills reduced by approximately £87 a month from current levels – a saving of around 46 percent.
Fiona Waters, Warm This Winter spokesperson said: “As millions of households batten down the hatches and prepare for a miserable winter in cold damp homes, only the Government can now prevent a winter crisis.
“As well as this emergency tariff for those now priced out of the market , people want to see bills come down permanently, which is going to require government action.
“We need to see beefed up programmes to insulate homes, more heat pumps fitted, which are cheaper to run, and more homegrown renewable energy built so we can get off expensive gas.”
The Chancellor has also recently been urged to use the Autumn Statement to tackle record levels of existing energy debt through a Help To Repay scheme, which would be in addition to support for tariffs to prevent debt levels escalating further.