Earlier today, Ofgem announced the move that could lead to energy bills rising significantly every three months, instead of six. Over the past year, Ofgem has raised the price cap on household energy bills several times, rising from £1,277 last August to £1,971 in April 2022. According to the latest estimates, the price cap could soon be raised to around £3,200 this winter, as wholesale gas costs continue to skyrocket.
The energy regulator has admitted that these price cap increases will soon throw millions of families into fuel poverty, where energy bills eat up a major portion of their income.
Campaigners have slammed Ofgem’s latest announcement, with Simon Francis, the coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, warning that the decision could lead to a rise in unnecessary deaths this winter.
He said: “Ultimately, this decision will force more people into fuel poverty in the middle of winter, causing additional stress on the NHS and it may ultimately lead to increased levels of excess winter deaths this year.
“It is simply inhumane.
“It’s clear that the Government and the Conservative Party leadership hopefuls just don’t get the scale of the problem facing the country, nor the public anger at rising bills. They are running out of time to act.”
Mr Francis called for a “full programme of emergency financial support” and “a rapid expansion of energy efficiency programmes”.
Meanwhile, Peter Smith, director of policy at National Energy Action, a fuel poverty charity, slammed Ofgem for making an “unnecessary” change.
He added: “Householders can expect further hikes just after Christmas, in the middle of heating season when energy costs are typically at their highest.
“January is also usually a time of increased mental health problems and further hikes in bills will sadly lead to increased misery and huge anxiety for energy consumers across Great Britain, particularly for the poorest households.”
Experts have noted that while urgent measures are needed to help households right now, the only long-term solution to help the UK avoid the volatile fossil fuel market is to invest in renewable energy.
Jess Ralston, the Senior Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “Updating the price cap quarterly will help energy companies pass on their increased costs more quickly, Ofgem hope reducing the chances of more supplier failures which have cost consumers about £100 to date, but it’s not an answer to surging gas bills and in the short term may mean that bills seemingly go up more often.
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