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Britons could die this winter due to surging energy prices, warned today after Ofgem confirmed an 80 per cent rise in the price cap – sending the average household’s yearly bill from £1,971 to £3,549 from October.
The cap announcement today will come into effect for around 24million households in England, Scotland kombi Servisi and Wales on default energy tariffs on October 1, and will remain in place until December 31, when it will be adjusted again.
The 4.5million pre-payment meter customers across Britain, who are often the most vulnerable and already in fuel poverty, will see an even more punishing increase – with their average annual bill set to go up to £3,608.
And things could get even worse next year, with experts at consultancy Auxilione using latest gas prices to predict that the cap will rise by another 52 per cent to £5,405 in January 2023, then by a further 34 per cent to £7,263 in April – before falling slightly, by 11 per cent to £6,485 in July and by another 7 per cent to £6,006 in October.
MoneySavingExpert founder Mr Lewis, who became emotional at times while giving passionate interviews to TV and radio shows this morning, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’ve been accused of catastrophising over this situation. Well, the reason I have catastrophised is this is a catastrophe, plain and simple.If we do not get further government intervention on top of what was announced in May, lives will be lost this winter.’
The consumer champion also said the latest rise in the cap means some people will pay up to £10,000 a year in bills.And he warned that there is no cap on the maximum you pay – but the cap is actually a maximum cost per unit that firms can charge for gas and electricity. Currently, this equates to £1,971 a year for the average home.
Ofgem said that from October 1 the equivalent per unit level of the price cap to the nearest pence for a typical customer paying by direct debit will be 52p per kWh for electricity customers and a standing charge of 46p per day.The equivalent per unit level for a typical gas customer is 15p per kWh with a standing charge of 28p per day.
As business groups and think tanks offered stark warnings over the crisis throughout the course of today:
- Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi admitted the rise would cause ‘stress’ and people could need to ration energy;
- Campaigners said the number of UK households in fuel poverty will have doubled in a year by this October;
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted ‘extra cash’ will be announced next month to support households; and
- Sir Keir Starmer said it is ‘absolutely unforgivable’ that the Government is ‘missing in action’ amid the crisis.
MoneySavingExpert founder Mr Lewis, who became emotional at times while giving passionate interviews to TV and radio shows this morning, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’ve been accused of catastrophising over this situation. Well, the reason I have catastrophised is this is a catastrophe, plain and simple.’
The consumer champion said the latest rise in the cap means some people will pay up to £10,000 a year in bills
Ofgem’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley warned of the hardship energy prices will cause this winter and urged the incoming prime minister and new Cabinet ‘to provide an additional and urgent response to continued surging energy prices’.He also said that the gas price this winter was 15 times more than the cost two years ago.
The regulator said the increase reflected the continued rise in global wholesale gas prices, which began to surge as the pandemic eased, and had been driven still higher by Russia slowly switching off gas supplies to Europe.
Ofgem also warned that energy prices could get ‘significantly worse’ next year.The regulator said that some suppliers might start increasing the amount that direct debit customers pay before October 1, to spread out payments, but any money taken by suppliers will only ever be spent on supplying energy to households.
Philippe Commaret, the managing director of energy giant EDF, has warned that half of UK households could be in fuel poverty in January as a result of rocketing prices.And Kombi Servisi the Trades Union Congress has said energy bills will rise 35 times faster than wages and 57 times faster than benefits in the last three months of this year.
Which? has urged the Government to raise its energy bills discount by at least 150 per cent or risk pushing millions of people into financial distress.The consumer watchdog said Ministers’ financial support for all households must increase from the current £400 to £1,000 – or from £67 to £167 per month from October to March.
However, no immediate extra help will be announced by Boris Johnson’s Government, with major financial decisions being postponed until either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak is in No 10 after the Tory leadership contest.
Miss Truss pledged ‘immediate support’ to help with soaring bills if she becomes prime minister, Kombi Servisi saying she would use an emergency budget next month to ‘ensure support is on its way to get through these tough times’. Miss Truss and her rival Mr Sunak have also both pledged to continue a £15billion support package unveiled in June.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said the increase in the cap would cause ‘stress and anxiety’ for people but that the Government was working to develop more options to support households.He also blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin for ‘driving up energy prices in revenge for our support of Ukraine’s brave struggle for freedom’.
He also suggested people could need to ration energy, saying: ‘The reality is that we should all look at our energy consumption. It is a difficult time.There is war on our continent. Very few people anticipated war. Wars happen in far-flung places. It is now here with us. We have to remain resilient. My responsibility is to deliver that help.’
The charity National Energy Action said the number of UK households in fuel poverty will have doubled in a year when the October cap rise takes effect.It calculates that 8.9million homes will be in fuel poverty from October – up from 4.5 million last October – and also takes into account the Government’s support package revealed in May.
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The Ofgem price cap will rise from £1,971 now to £3,549 from October 2022, it confirmed today.And experts at energy consultancy Auxilione now think the cap will rise by another 52 per cent to £5,405 in January 2023, then by a further 34 per cent to £7,263 in April – before falling slightly, by 11 per cent to £6,485 in July and by another 7 per cent to £6,006 in October.
An Ofgem graphic shows changes in the components making up the direct debit level of the cap, shown for dual fuel usage
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