Campaigners have warned around seven million homes in the UK would suffer catastrophic poverty without a £14 billion emergency support package.
Pressure group Warm This Winter said despite the Energy Price Guarantee, a £400 energy bill payment and other support announced, more help would be needed to contain it. “the severe health effects of living in cold, wet homes paralyze the NHS and cause excess winter deaths”.
The group is calling for additional emergency assistance for the most vulnerable.
On the financial front, it is urging a third cost-of-living payment of £325 for those with income-related benefits to be paid on December 1.
And most important of the non-financial requirements is the immediate suspension of all households forced to switch funds to more expensive prepaid meters, whether by court order or remotely through smart watch.
Warm This Winter is also asking for an extra £150 to be awarded for disability benefits, reinstates a £20 Universal credit boost, increases energy bill support payments for those without a gas connection and ensuring all households who received the Warm Home Discount last winter can get a £150 discount this winter.
Even with the Energy Price Guarantee included, the Fuels End Poverty Alliance calculates the unit price of gas has increased from 153% to 165% since winter 2021, while the unit price of electricity has increased by 63-68% .
Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of Asthma + Lungs UK research and advocacy charity, said with millions of homes on the brink of poverty, they were “extremely concerned about their lung health” the country will rapidly deteriorate.”
“If people are unable to heat their homes, they may be forced to live in frozen homes where cold and flu viruses can thrive,” she said.
“We know people with lung disease who are struggling with skyrocketing prices – one in five we surveyed said they’ve had an asthma attack because of the changes they’ve made in their life to cope. coping with cost-of-living crises, such as skipping meals, taking no prescriptions, and using less electrically powered medical machinery.
“Things will only get worse as temperatures plummet and colds and viruses increase.”
Government introduced energy price guarantee help. It limits how much a household can pay per unit of gas or electricity to help lessen the damage to family finances due to a wider range cost of living crisis.
It means the taxpayer will pay the difference between the stated unit price and any higher unit price.
It also introduced a £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme, managed by energy suppliers and paid for over six months starting October, to ensure consumers receive support. financial aid during the winter months.
All households in England, Scotland and Wales are eligible.
However, Simon Francis, coordinator of the Fuel Coalition to End Poverty, said the support now would only generate “the edge of the cliff in April 2023” when the payments stopped.
“This will lead to an increase in the number of poor households by almost eight million,” he warned.
It comes after the National Grid System Operator said last week The UK may experience a power cut in the “impossible” case, the gas supply will fall short of the demand.
Free boiler repair
Warm this Winter is a new campaign demanding government action now to help tackle soaring energy bills this winter and ensure energy is affordable for everyone in the future. .
It is supported by leading anti-poverty and environmental organisations, including Save the Children, WWF and the Fuel Coalition to End Poverty.
Other measures the government has suggested the government could consider to help keep households warm this winter, include the introduction of a public information campaign, giving guidance to local authorities. best practices in using the Household Support Fund for free boiler repairs and working with charities and councils to increase the delivery of energy advice.
Working with landlords, the government can also assist tenants in poverty through the introduction of social rent limits and a freeze on private sector rents.