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Energy bosses have told parliament that as many as four in 10 people in the UK could fall into fuel poverty when the energy price cap rises further in autumn. Firms are calling for the government to give further support to the most vulnerable households, telling them we are likely to face a “horrific winter”.
Energy regulator Ofgem is once again expected to push up the annual limit on energy tariffs in October. E.ON UK’s chief executive Michael Lewis has warned that this could cause between 30% and 40% of people could fall into fuel poverty. This means they will be unable to afford the standard amount of energy needed to survive.
He added he expects customer debt to rise by 50% in the coming months, equivalent to a staggering £800 million. Not only this, but people may be forced into debt in other parts of their life, or struggle to put food on the table.
ScottishPower also spoke of the huge number of phone calls they receive on a daily basis. These calls are from worried customers, unsure they will be able to pay their bills. Their chief executive Keith Anderson told MPs the firm has received an overwhelming 8,000 phone calls from customers in distress.
Now, energy bosses are calling for a £1,000 deficit fund from the government to come into place. This would take £1,000 off the bills of the poorest and most vulnerable households in the county. The government or consumers would then pay this off over 10 years. This is more needed than ever, with some experts warning the price cap could hit an eye-watering £2,600 per annum from October.
Similarly, EDF Energy has experienced an influx of phone calls from worried customers – an increase of 40%, in fact. Simone Rossi, EDF’s chief executive had similar worries to those of E.ON and ScottishPower. “Pre-payment customers are being hit first,” he told parliament. “We need the government to reassess.”
Gas prices have also surged as of late, meaning most household energy suppliers have raised prices to the very maximum. Many consumer groups, however, are arguing firms are raising prices by more than necessary. This is for their own gain, at the expense of customers who are already struggling.