Energy bills spiral out of control

PA

Now the Indian summer has come to an abrupt end, we face the start of a very expensive winter as households up and down the country begrudgingly switch on the heating.

Britain is on the brink of an affordability crisis when it comes to household energy, according to new research, and we're blaming it all on the government.
Comparison site uSwitch, which carried out the survey, said the findings are a wake-up call to the Government, suggesting that many householders cannot afford any further increases to their energy bills and casting doubt over their ability to help foot the bill of the Government's ambitious carbon reduction plans.

The average household energy bill is now £1,293 a year- just £207 or 14% short of the £1,500 'affordability ceiling' – at which many households say they would have to ration their energy use, go without adequate heating or turn it off altogether.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: "This is a wake-up call and the clearest evidence yet that the UK is on the brink of an affordability crisis when it comes to household energy. We are now just £207 or 14% away from hitting an affordability ceiling after which consumers will start rationing their usage as though they are living in the third world.

"The facts speak for themselves: almost 7 million households living in fuel poverty, a third of people saying that energy is already unaffordable in the UK and over a quarter already struggling to afford their bills.

Environment over affordability
Many households blame the government, with 69% saying it has not struck the right balance between 'greening' energy supplies and households being able to enjoy affordable energy.

As part of the country's commitment to combating climate change we face a £200 billion investment programme which includes the cost of cutting carbon and switching to renewable generation - yet the real issue for consumers is simply meeting their bills each month

Robinson adds: "Unfortunately for consumers, British households can expect to be footing the bill [of the £200 billion investment programme]. I would urge the Government to calculate the full cost that will be passed onto household energy bills and to then think again about the impact on affordability in the UK."

Consumer group Which? says its own figures show gas and electricity is biggest financial worry for many people.

Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?, said: "The rising cost of living has already forced almost half of us to cut back on essentials, and this was before some of the recent energy price hikes had even taken effect. It's now vital that the Government and energy suppliers work together to help consumers manage their energy bills this winter."
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