STATEMENT: Rise in energy prices coinciding with the £20 a week cut in Universal Credit payments will put more households at risk of serious hardship this winter

On Friday 1 October 2021 energy prices are set to rise as the energy price cap increases. This change coincides with the end of the furlough scheme and a Universal Credit payment cut of £20 per week which will reduce household incomes for those on the scheme.

Customers on prepayment meters, who already pay more, are likely to be especially vulnerable to disruption. As energy providers fold, customers of failing suppliers are likely to see increased bills as they are transferred to a new supplier. Groundwork’s Green Doctors usually help householders to save money by changing to a cheaper tariff but this winter, with all suppliers charging the energy price cap cost, that won’t be possible.

Householders can still be supported to take small measures to increase the energy efficiency of their homes but, in the long-term, significant measures are needed to upgrade the UK’s housing for the 21st century. And when it comes to supporting people and households out of fuel poverty, we need to consider what goes on out outside the front door as well as what is behind it.

Strong social infrastructure plays a vital role in facilitating connections between households in need of advice and services and programmes designed to help them, so that people don’t feel either ashamed, worried or simply unaware of the help that is available to them. The government’s £500m Household Support Fund, announced this morning, will rely on these connections to reach those in need.

According to the latest official government data, 13.4% of households in England were already in fuel poverty in 2019. A new report by Groundwork has examined the lessons learned through tackling fuel poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report found that more households are in need of advice and support than before March 2020, with more complex cases among the households engaging with the service.

Services like Groundwork Green Doctors have the potential to help ‘level up’ communities, through tackling health inequalities and ensuring a just transition as we tackle climate change.

Read our full statement below.

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s UK Chief Executive, said:

We know for some people the change in the seasons brings with it a genuine sense of dread about their ability to meet basic needs over the winter. The pandemic has left many people in financial hardship and increasing energy costs will add to that pressure. Hardship payments will help those who are most vulnerable, but the long-term solution has to be a renewed focus on insulating homes and making sure more people have the advice they need to minimise their bills and maximise their income. With a government spending review and COP26 on the horizon we need to demonstrate that we’re serious about cutting carbon and cutting the number of people in fuel poverty.