Nearly 40% of UK households will fall into ‘energy poverty’ this winter
Guest Post by Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst
The political crisis in the United Kingdom is reaching its apogee as two consecutive prime ministers resigned in just three months, further exacerbating the already disastrous economic situation. The ever-rising prices of goods and commodities are putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the average UK citizen, whose rapidly deteriorating purchasing power is about to be hit even harder as winter approaches.
The promised energy price controls could lead to approximately 11 million UK households falling into “fuel poverty.” Given the number of people in an average UK family, it means the energy crisis will directly affect at least 26 million UK citizens. This means that nearly 40% of UK families are facing the grim prospect of not being able to afford energy for their households. Demographic estimates indicate that there are just over 28 million households in the UK, with the average one having 2.36 people.
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The End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) described the outlook as “frankly terrifying” and urged the UK government “to focus on a new package of support and energy market reforms, alongside investment in home insulation and renewables.” According to EFPC, the predicted increase from the current seven million households in fuel poverty to nearly eleven (10.7) million after the UK government lifts its guarantee limiting the average household energy bill to £2,500 from April will then fall slightly – but will still leave over ten (10.1) million households in fuel poverty in the winter of 2023/24.
Back in early March, EFPC warned that the energy crisis could leave 8.5 million UK households unable to heat and power their homes. The group, which represents approximately 50 organizations, warned that “cold homes cost lives” and that “more frail and older people would die during the winter” without further action from the UK government.
EFPC campaigners were pleading cuts in energy bills for the most vulnerable households as wholesale prices were projected to soar, with stark predictions that energy bills in the UK could increase to £3,000 per year. However, the grim predictions from March proved to be optimistic, as the most recent data shows the number of affected households will be even higher. The new figures come as protesters gather in London to ask the UK institutions to back plans for “a universal basic energy allowance” to meet heating, cooking and lighting needs, part of the “Energy For All” petition which will be handed to Downing Street on Wednesday with more than 600,000 signatures.
According to OilPrice, the Warm This Winter campaign called for the immediate suspension of all forced transfers of households onto more expensive pre-payment meters, whether by court warrant or remotely via smart meters.
Ruth London, from Fuel Poverty Action, stated: “The outlook is frankly terrifying. It is now all the more essential – and more possible – to win a totally new pricing framework like Energy For All. Finally there is now support for this inside Parliament.”
Simon Francis, EFPC co-ordinator, said: “The Government may have brought some stability to the markets, but it has come at the cost of huge instability in households’ finances. The new Chancellor must work quickly, and with consumer groups and charities, to design a new package of support and energy market reforms that will help those in fuel poverty now and post-April. But while the political focus on energy bills may now have shifted to next April, millions of the most vulnerable will be living in cold and damp homes this winter and will need further financial and non-financial support.”
At the same time, consumer sites, such as the MoneySavingExpert (MSE), urged some of the most prominent energy companies to allow prepayment customers with smart meters to use their £400 government support payment on both electricity and gas, to ensure households can maintain heating this winter season. According to MSE, prepayment customers with traditional meters can decide where best to use the payments, which come in six monthly installments between October and March 2023, as they are sent as a voucher they can use to top up their electricity or gas meter. However for those with smart meters, the payment is usually applied to their electricity meter by default, so they have less choice.
Gary Caffell, head of energy at MSE, said: “We appreciate that suppliers have acted fast to deliver the first of these crucial support payments. But combined with the wider cost of living crisis – affecting all other areas of people’s finances – not allowing customers flexibility to transfer some or all of these payments to gas meters puts these people, many of whom are vulnerable, at a much higher risk of reaching a crisis point in the coming months. Some may simply not be able to afford to heat their homes.”
Despite worsening economic conditions and what can now only be described as chronic political instability, the UK keeps insisting on escalating Russophobic policies which are bound to make the energy crisis far worse than it already is. It is becoming apparent that the political establishment in London is either completely detached from reality or simply unconcerned by the fate of the populace. For their part, the UK citizens are making it clear they are aware of this. The people’s contempt for the authorities is staggering, as recent polls showing that even lettuce is more popular than (now former) Prime Minister Liz Truss can hardly be described as anything else but (tragi)comedy.