The number of households in fuel poverty will increase to 8.4 million from April – up from last October’s 4.5 million – when Government support drops despite spiralling prices, campaigners have predicted.
National Energy Action (NEA) said those in fuel poverty will include 1.8 million carers, 5.9 million low income and financially vulnerable households, 3.6 million people with a disability and 1.6 million households in homes without a gas supply.
A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend 10% or more of its income on energy in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime.
A survey for NEA found 81% of householders say they will ration their heating over the next three months, 55% are already rationing hot water and 13% are reducing use of medical equipment.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt used his autumn statement to say the energy price guarantee will continue for a further 12 months from April – but will rise from the current £2,500 to £3,000 per year for the average household.
This will coincide with the £67 monthly payments making up the Government’s £400 rebate to all households to offset higher energy bills ending from March.
However, the plan only caps the cost per unit that households pay, with actual bills still determined by how much energy is consumed.
NEA released its findings to mark Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on December 2 and is urging people to share on social media and write to their MP about how changes to the Government’s support will affect the most vulnerable.
NEA chief executive Adam Scorer said: “This winter has already been bleak and next year is set to be even worse.
“With Government support being reduced and energy bills spiralling yet again in April, one in three households will be in fuel poverty. That means many of them will be forced to bed wearing coats, rationing showers and hot water, it means running up huge debts or self-disconnecting and going cold.
“Millions of the most vulnerable – carers, people with disabilities, those on low incomes and living in inefficient homes – are already bearing the brunt this winter. The situation will continue to get worse next year. The effects of this are devastating on both physical and mental health. Make no mistake, cold homes can kill.
“Government intervention must prioritise the most vulnerable in 2023 and beyond.”