Energy bills to increase in January as public blame Government for crisis

The public has placed the blame for people living in cold damp homes this winter at the door of the Government.

In the Chancellor’s autumn statement on Wednesday, the Government refused to accept proposals from charities to provide an Emergency Energy Tariff for the most in need households and also ruled out a ‘help to repay’ scheme for the millions of people in energy debt.

Polling conducted prior to the Autumn Statement for the Warm This Winter campaign found that well over a third of the public (37%) already attributed significant responsibility for the energy bills crisis to Government policy.

Hardly any respondents (3%) said that Government policy bore no responsibility for people living in cold damp homes.

Meanwhile, the Office of Budget Responsibility has concluded that the impact of the cost of living crisis and high energy bills means that living standards are forecast to be 3½ per cent lower in 2024-25 than pre-pandemic. Economists claim that this is the largest reduction in living standards since records began in the 1950s.

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

“We’re devastated that the emergency energy tariff, that would give hard-pressed families money off their monthly bills, has not been adopted by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement, but we’ve not given up.

“The Government should be putting the vulnerable, disabled people, the elderly, those with medical conditions and the pregnant first rather than condemning them to living in cold damp homes.”

From 1 January 2024, Ofgem have confirmed that the average household’s energy bill will increase by 5% (or £94 a year) from current prices.

Compared to last year, the unit cost changes show decreases, but these are offset by daily standing charges that have increased by 5% for gas and 14% for electricity. Standing charges are now subject to a review by Ofgem.

When compared to pre-crisis levels, gas unit costs are more than double what they were and electricity costs are up 129%. Standing charges are up 8% for gas and 119% for electricity.

A spokesperson from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

“These price hikes come at the worst possible time for households. Bills will go up just as winter bites hard and household finances are hit further by Christmas credit cards, the long January pay period and the ongoing wider cost of living crisis.

“We warned* Ofgem that a January price cap rise was a bad idea when the regulator consulted on this in 2022. Now the chilling effect of the change is being realised, the inhumanity of this policy is clear to see.

“It will be anything but a happy new year for people trapped in Britain’s broken energy system.”

Fi Waters from Warm This Winter continued:

“The price cap rising again in January is yet another kick in the teeth to ordinary people, particularly as in the last few weeks we’ve seen energy companies lining up to announce hundreds of millions of pounds worth of profits. They are raking it in and laughing all the way to the bank while ordinary people can’t afford to turn their heating on.

“It’s clear our energy system is broken. The relentless roll call of obscene profits and now a hike in energy bills in the new year, is not only hugely unfair, it’s costing lives, damaging health and wasting money as our reliance on fossil fuels is keeping bills sky high.”

Jonathan Bean from Fuel Poverty Action added:

“These inflated prices mean more cold damp homes and more deaths. Ofgem is protecting profits not people.”