Struggling households need £73 a month off energy bills to keep warm this winter

Data commissioned by the Warm This Winter campaign has revealed how much it would take to enable struggling households to be able to afford their energy bills.

A fifth (21%) said that they need over £100 a month off their energy bills. On average, people struggling to pay energy costs said they need £73 a month off their bills to keep themselves warm this winter.

For those in work, the figure is £71 and for those who are not working, it rises to £77 a month.

Furthermore, Ofgem is expected to increase energy bills by 5% from 1 January and predictions from experts show that prices will remain high until March 2025.

Over a third (38%) of people from households where someone is under 5, pregnant, over 65 or with preexisting health conditions think they won’t or may not be able to afford to put the heating on at all this winter. Almost two thirds (62%) already want to put the heating on, but are worried about the cost.

A wide range of health, poverty, housing and environmental organisations and academics have called on the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt MP, to help families most in need of support through the introduction of an Emergency Energy Tariff and a help to repay scheme for those in energy debt.

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%.

Polling suggests 83% of the general public – who have an opinion would support such a measure.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

“If the UK Government thinks that people will be able to get through this winter without more support for their energy bills, then they are living in cloud cuckoo land.

“We need to see the Chancellor introduce an Emergency Energy Tariff for vulnerable households and a Help To Repay scheme for those in energy debt.

“Even in winter 2024/25, energy bills will be 79% higher than winter 2020/21. Record prices are here to stay and the UK Government needs to take action to help people stay warm this winter and every winter through increased support for insulation and renewables.

“Failure to avert this cold homes crisis will lead to pressure on the NHS, a mental health catastrophe and additional winter deaths caused by living in cold damp homes.”

Fi Waters, spokesperson for the Warm This Winter campaign, said:

“The Government is now running dangerously out of time to help people who are most at risk of the health complications of living in cold damp homes.

“People want to see bills come down permanently, which is going to require further 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 initial research to inform the development of the proposal and targeting of support was undertaken by the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and Cambridge Architectural Research.