Heat or eat: Millions of households face fuel poverty due to soaring energy prices with average annual bill soon predicted to reach £2,240
- Millions could find themselves in fuel poverty due to rising energy costs
- A charity is warning some may be forced to choose between heating and eating
- Experts are calling on Ofgem and the Government to do more to help
Millions more households could be plunged into fuel poverty this year, a charity has warned.
Currently, there are four million homes in Britain in fuel poverty with 500,000 reaching this state in October, according to data from National Energy Action.
After the expected price cap rise in April, it is predicted a further 1.5million will also be in poverty, totaling 6million households.
It comes at a time when many are concerned about soaring energy bills with costs expected to double in the New Year.
Millions more households could be plunged into fuel poverty due to rising energy costs
Prices for fixed tariffs are likely to reach over £2,000 this year – more than double what some were paying at the beginning of last year.
Energy analysts, Cornwall Insight, have said prices will get even higher at the end of this year with its current forecast for the winter 2022 to 2023 price cap standing at approximately £2,240 per annum.
Meanwhile, although Ofgem’s current price cap prevents suppliers from charging more than £1,277 a year to a typical default tariff customer, the level is expected to increase by hundreds of pounds in April when reviewed.
There are also much fewer switching options in the market now after the energy crisis led to 25 suppliers collapsing meaning half of the industry disappeared in just a few months.
Now millions of homes will be worrying about how they will pay for the inflated bills in 2022.
Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, said: ‘Every home should be a warm and safe place, but for millions of households the cold reality is very different and getting much worse.
‘The cost of living in the UK is at its highest level in a decade with household energy bills the biggest driver. When the costs of essential services go up, those on lowest incomes are hit hardest.
‘Bills have increased by well over £230 since last winter and millions now face a daily heat or eat dilemma. We estimate energy bills will rocket again in April, doubling the average householders’ heating bills since last year.
‘Over the same period, those on the lowest incomes have seen their income plummet by over £1,000 per year. For people already on a budgetary knife-edge, the cost of keeping a family warm has exploded while budgets have collapsed.
‘No amount of useful tips or savvy shopping can cope with that.’
Millions of homes will be worrying about how they will pay for the inflated bills in 2022
In response to the ongoing problems in the industry, Ofgem is consulting on spreading the cost of bailing out customers of failed suppliers, potentially over several years.
The regulator said this could help to reduce the bills and perhaps spare customers a levy of up to £100.
However, as yet, nothing has been agreed and talks are expected to continue.
Experts are criticising the lack of action so far by Ofgem and the Government with many saying more needs to be done to stop bills spiralling out of control.
Joe Malinowski, founder of energy price comparison website, the Energy Shop, said: ‘The Government and Ofgem have watched the carnage in the energy markets unfold from a distance.
‘They have relied on the energy price cap protecting consumers whilst keeping their fingers crossed, and desperately hoping that things would somehow resolve themselves.
‘They have kicked the can down the road while allowing half of all active energy suppliers to crash and burn.’
Despite the decrease in options, customers are still urged to use comparison sites to see if they could save money by switching provider or changing tariff.
Whilst, previously, fixed tariffs were the best bet, the standard default deals are now likely to be the cheapest as they are capped.
You can read more about what is likely to happen in the energy industry in 2022 – and to find out what support is available to consumers.