THE government is urged to increase the rebate on the energy bill by at least 150% or risk putting millions of people in difficulty.
Consumer group Which? calls on the government to do more to help UK households pay their energy bills this winter.
Who? said the government must increase the rebate from the current level of £400 to £1,000.
This would see the monthly discount increase from £67 to £167 per month from October to March.
It comes the day before regulator Ofgem will reveal exactly how much bills will rise this winter.
The new energy price cap is announced tomorrow, August 26, and will come into effect on October 1.
It is expected to take the average household bill to over £3,500 a year – with some experts predicting bills could hit £6,000 next year.
Who? said the current aid package – announced by former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in May – was insufficient to protect the living standards of those on the lowest incomes and would cause considerable financial and social hardship.
The child poverty action group has also called for more help for struggling families – it said low-income households will face a £1,000 shortfall in energy costs alone over the course of the year until April 2023.
CPAG said typical energy costs are around 30% for families with children, than households without.
He wants to see more targeted support for families to reflect their added costs.
CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: ‘With £1,000 shortfall in energy bills alone, many struggling families will fall through the ice this winter unless the government puts swift action. more help available.
“Over the next few months, families will need additional support that covers their costs and reflects family size, and Social Security needs to increase to match inflation from April.
“Four million children already live in poverty and many more are now dangerously close to it. Letting their families fall cannot be an option.”
More help is needed
When the government first announced its financial support package in May, the energy price cap was expected to reach around £2,800 in October.
Analysts at Cornwall Insight are now predicting average energy bills will rise to £3,554 in October and hit £4,650 in January.
It is estimated that two-thirds of UK households could fall into fuel poverty by January.
Ovo Energy boss Stephen Fitzpatrick has warned some of the worst-hit households will see their bills quadruple due to soaring costs
Who? said that more needs to be done to help vulnerable households. As well as increasing the discount by 150%, he wants to see an additional payment of £150 made for certain people.
Under Rishi’s aid scheme, nearly every household in the UK will get a £400 rebate on their energy bills this winter.
The money will be applied in six monthly installments, starting in October.
Millions more people will get extra help – including a £650 payment for those on certain benefits such as Universal Credit, £150 for people with disabilities and £300 for pensioners.
But as energy costs continue to soar, there are concerns that the measures may not be enough.
Rocio Concha, which one? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “With energy bill forecasts continuing to soar, the government must increase the energy bill support program by at least 150%, or risk plunging millions of households into financial hardship this winter.
“While increased support will bring relief to many, it is not a long-term solution. The government and regulator must urgently undertake a thorough review of retail energy pricing – including the price caps – to create a fair and affordable system for consumers.
“The government must also develop a program to urgently improve the insulation of homes – as this will help reduce people’s energy costs for years to come.”
What if you’re worried about energy bills?
Don’t panic – there is help available.
Experts are urging people not to stop paying their bills – it’s an incredible risk and could lead to bailiffs coming to your house or a prepayment meter being set up.
If possible, don’t cancel your direct debit – you’ll often get a discount by paying this way.
Be sure to submit a meter reading regularly so you only pay for the energy you actually use. You can ask your provider to reduce the monthly payment if you think it is too high.
Speak to your provider if you are having difficulty. Some suppliers have hardship schemes that offer grants to people in energy debt.
Your provider should also help you come up with a manageable repayment plan based on what you can afford.
Find out if you are eligible for other help – some local councils distribute money to cover the cost of basic necessities through the Household Support Fund.
We’ve rounded up some of the other energy aid available, including welfare programs and bill rebates.