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Over six million households set for fuel poverty as many decide to ‘self-disconnect’

Over six million households set for fuel poverty as many decide to ‘self-disconnect’
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

Six and a half million households in the UK will be in fuel poverty at the beginning of January, a charity predicts.

National Energy Action (NEA) revealed two million households ‘self-disconnected’ and went without any energy in the home for the last three months.

The survey showed the lengths to which families go to cope with rising energy bills. Over four in ten (43%) said they have gone to bed early to stay warm, while 13% have used appliances like ovens to stay warm at home.

Around a quarter (23%) left their curtains closed all day or even put newspapers over their windows to keep the heat in.

The charity’s forecast follows Ofgem’s announcement last week that the total price for a typical household that uses gas and electricity with Direct Debit will increase from £1,834 to £1,928 per year – a rise of £94. Ofgem attributed the spike in price caps to the cost of wholesale gas going up following the conflict in the Middle East.

In July, the Energy Bills Support Scheme and Price Guarantee came to an end, with the latter replaced by Ofgem’s price cap, which limits the unit price and not the total bill.

Meanwhile, as the Autumn Statement had no inclusion of any additional support for families, NEA has urged the Government to provide more help to ease families’ worries this winter.

“No one should have to shower with cold water”

The chief executive of NEA, Adam Scorer, said: “Let’s make no mistake. These are not ‘coping tactics’. No one should have to shower with cold water or disconnect from energy entirely. For two years, we’ve been warning that people’s lives are in danger from sky-high energy prices and the situation is only getting worse from January.

“Many households need to use more energy to run medical equipment at home but are being forced to ration its use or stop using it altogether. Others are turning off fridges, despite them containing vital medicine. Or they are running up unmanageable debt so that they can keep the heating on, causing a devastating impact on mental health.”

Scorer added: “People trapped in a vicious cycle of hospital admission, discharge and readmission. For thousands, it means premature death. The failure to provide additional support in last week’s Autumn Statement means the poorest households are living in cold and unsafe homes this winter, with grave consequences for people’s health and well-being.”