Trade association Energy UK, Citizens Advice, National Energy Action, MoneySavingExpert and Fair By Design have called on the government to publish their consultation on how to target support to vulnerable energy users this winter.
One of the options being looked at by the government report is a social tariff for energy use. The government has said it plans to introduce more targeted support for vulnerable customers by April 2024.
The groups are warning that despite falls in energy prices, millions of people will struggle to afford energy bills, which are projected to be £600 higher than at the start of last year. This means many customers risk falling into debt, even as prices are falling. The campaigners are calling for support to be targeted, fairly funded, and to work with the existing Warm Home Discount.
Targeted measures, rather than the universal support provided by the Energy Bill Support Scheme and Energy Price Guarantee, will require more time to introduce, and the groups are calling on the government to act on this issue now, with parliament going into summer recess at the end of this week.
Today, alongside @CitizensAdvice, @MoneySavingExp, @FairByDesign and @NEA_UKCharity, we’re calling on the government to switch on to help customers with increased energy bills ahead of this winter – including considering a social tariff ⚡️❄️— Energy UK (@EnergyUKcomms) July 20, 2023
Learn more 👇https://t.co/OcDVF2QGC4 pic.twitter.com/PUZ7a1eFFJ
Dhara Vyas, Energy UK’s deputy chief executive, said: “Energy suppliers, consumer groups and charities are all concerned that millions of households are still going to need help to pay for the energy they will need to use this winter. The Government stepped up last year with support that was a lifeline for many customers but introducing it at very short notice necessitated a blanket approach. This would be hugely expensive to repeat.”
“Planning targeted support for those who need it the most cannot wait until winter is nearly upon us. A more permanent, long-term solution to ensure all customers can afford their bills is also required – and if that means putting in place a social tariff by next April, then time is already running very short.”
Citizens Advice said that the average spend on gas and electricity for their clients has gone up 73% since 2019 (from £112 per month to £194). Targeted energy bill support for these people would help them save £438.96 over 12 months, Citizens Advice said.
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Energy affordability is a long-term problem that needs a long-term solution. A social tariff would protect millions of people from spending excessive amounts on their bills.”
National Energy Action has warned that the removal of the Government’s previous support has left 6.6 million households in fuel poverty and joined 95 charities and non-profit organisations calling for the introduction of a social tariff earlier this year.
Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action (NEA), said: “Last winter was bleak but this winter is set to be even worse. Our figures show 6.6 million UK households are in fuel poverty – an increase of over 2.5 million since the energy crisis began. That’s millions more people going without hot food, warm showers and rationing their heating or turning it off altogether. A social tariff for the most vulnerable is vital to help those who cannot stay warm, safe and healthy at home.”