Fuel poverty ‘could top 4.4 million homes this year’, campaigners calculate


Nearly 400,000 more homes will be pushed into fuel poverty this winter, if Ofgem allows suppliers to raise tariffs, campaigners conclude today, citing new data and industry consultants.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition says wholesale prices surging between 19% and 42% in early June alone will oblige Ofgem to permit retailers to raise tariffs.  The regulator’s green light may come as soon as 6 August, the activists say.

The coalition claims membership among local councils, tenants’ groups, trades unions, faith organisations and the mayor of London.

Today it quotes calculations by analysts Cornwall Insight that Ofgem’s say-so will empower retailers to hike bills by an average of £122, putting a typical household on £1,250 for dual-fuel tariff paid by direct debit.

October 1 could see the first hikes in retail tariffs, say campaigners.  A total of 392,000 more homes could be pushed into paying more than 10% of their earnings on fuel, the analysts conclude.

Last month’s State of Community Energy 2021 report revealed how around a third of Britain’s 424 activist-run green energy co-operatives are offering advice to their localities to stave off fuel poverty.

Simon Francis, co-ordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition today cited research by debt counselling charity StepChange that more than 4m people are already behind on their household bills.

“A second Ofgem price cap rise this year will be disastrous for the millions on the brink of fuel poverty”, said Francis.  Eighteen months of loss of income during lockdown had left bill-payers reeling.

Fuel poverty can make respiratory illnesses worse, the coalition points out, meaning conditions such as Covid may be exacerbated by living in cold damp homes.

Francis urged Ofgem to think again about raising the price cap on retailers.  Equally “the Government (could) step in and provide emergency financial support to those who suffer due to the decision”.

On 23 June the campaigners wrote to Johnson, asking him to deliver on manifesto pledges from December 2019 to invest £9.2 billion in insulating homes, and investing £2.8 billion in support of 42,500 green jobs in the sector.


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