Energy regulator OFGEM’s new price cap announced today* does not help the millions of older and vulnerable people still struggling to pay bills or in debt from last Winter. (*7am, 25th August 2023).
Although the latest limit on typical UK dual-fuel bills for 1st October to 31st December 2023 is, as anticipated £151 lower than the previous quarter at £1,923 a year, it will not avert another winter of widespread misery. (see figures below).
That is why the National Pensioners Convention is calling for additional government assistance with fuel bills for 2023/24, such as the reintroduction of the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “Older people will still be paying considerably more for energy this winter than before the pandemic, and so far this winter no energy bills support payment has been promised.
NPC says older people struggling and in debt from last Winter’s bills need urgent support
“But there is undoubtedly a case for the government to step in, especially with so many charities and experts already predicting that those on low incomes will pay more for their energy than last winter - and last winter’s bills were double the winter before.”
The NPC’s concerns have been confirmed by figures from the charity National Energy Action, which estimates that 6.2million UK households – up almost two million from 2021 - face fuel poverty this winter. Meanwhile Citizens Advice say 46,431 people with energy debts contacted them for help in the first six months of 2023, a 17% increase on the same period last year. And the value of their debts - averaging £1,711 - is up a third on 2019. So they are already starting the winter in debt.
OFGEM Energy Price Cap Announced
Jan Shortt commented: “Gas and electricity bills have been rising fast over the last couple of years, and this has not been helped by the rocketing price of food and other essentials.
“While every little helps in this cost-of-living crisis, the latest OFGEM price cap is just that - a little – and it looks like it will go back up again in January anyway.
“The government must move urgently on the way in which energy is provided, ideally through publicly owned national grids. In the meantime, the profits made by energy providers should be used to subsidise households rather than dumped onto the taxpayer.
“We have seen no real movement on renewable and sustainable energy sources, and this is now a crucial part of future energy costs for society.
“There is no real interest in dealing with cold, damp homes, prepayment meters are still a concern, and there has been no reform of standing charges.
“If this was a mid-term performance report, we would say the government 'must do a lot better!’”
*BBC NEWS – PRICE CAP BREAKDOWN - www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-66608433
Energy bills will fall slightly in the three months from October to £1,923 a year for the typical household, regulator Ofgem has announced
Currently the annual energy bill for a typical household is £2,074, meaning a drop of £151 in the autumn.
The price cap governs what 29 million households in England, Wales and Scotland pay for their energy - the price per unit, not the total bill
Under the new cap, the average household energy bill will still be hundreds of pounds higher than in winter 2021, when it was £1,277
Last winter's £400 support from the government has ended - plus standing charges are changes in many areas - so many people will see little difference.
Energy is regulated separately in Northern Ireland, where bills are slightly lower
**EARLIER FORECAST Based on the latest analysis by Cornwall Insight, from 1st October 2023, the typical annual energy bill is expected to be around £1,925. NB: Contact NPC for further clarification when final figures are announced at 7am, 25th August.
National Energy Action: www.nea.org.uk/news/worst-of-the-energy-crisis
Citizens Advice: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-66592714
Download the press release