Ninety-five charities and non-profit organisations have signed an open letter to the chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP, calling for a social tariff to be implemented in the energy market to assist vulnerable households.
A social tariff would support low-income households paying more for their energy due to the poverty premium with their energy bills.
This targeted support would encompass those on means-tested benefits, disability benefits and Carer’s Allowance as well as those that don’t receive welfare support but are struggling to keep up with their energy bills.
The charity Age UK, one of the signatories, recently published research revealing that 71% of over-60s and 76% of those living with a disability support a new social tariff.
Other organisations that signed the open letter include National Energy Action (NEA), Fair by Design and Scope.
NEA has estimated that the number of UK households pushed into fuel poverty (here defined as those paying 10% of their after-tax income on energy costs to maintain standard heat) has risen from 4.5 million in October 2021 to 6.7 million due to the energy crisis.
New research by Citizens Advice also revealed that 600,000 households were automatically put onto a prepayment meter due to inability to maintain energy bill payments. The charity also found that 19% of prepayment customers that were cut off spent a minimum of 24 hours without gas or electricity.
The charities were especially concerned about the effect that withdrawing universal energy support in 2023 would have on many older and disabled people as demand is already high for the organisations’ services from people severely struggling.
One example given by the organisations was of people that rely on dialysis machines struggling to keep their equipment turned on and heat their home.
The NEA predicts that withdrawing the Government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme will see the number of fuel power households in the UK increase to 8.4 million.
Last week the NEA published its annual Fuel Poverty Monitor, which warned that despite the Office for National Statistics’ provisional winter mortality in England and Wales statistics for 2021 to 2022 being low, next year would “expose the full impact” of the energy crisis.
“For our Fuel Poverty Monitor, we spoke to over a hundred organisations across the UK, directly with our clients and polled the general public. From this it’s clear that the energy crisis is having a profound impact on the poorest and most vulnerable households in society,” said head of policy and public affairs at NEA, Matt Copeland.
“Whether households are heating just one room for just a few hours a week, or rationing the use of their medical equipment, the results are completely unacceptable in modern day society. So far, the UK Government has offered sticking plaster solutions to the crisis.
“What is really needed is structural change to the energy market. We were told time and again that a social tariff is what is needed. Today we come together with hundreds of other organisations to say just that. The UK Government must urgently prioritise work to implement a social tariff as soon as possible.”