Free debt help charity, Christians Against Poverty (CAP), is calling on the Government to take urgent action to extend emergency support to the worst hit households ahead of the pending rise in energy costs in April.
Following today’s Ofgem announcements of an average £700, or 54% increase in energy bills, CAP’s Director of External Affairs, Gareth McNab, said, “This is a really difficult situation that will see us all paying more for our energy, but for those on a low income or already struggling in debt this will be devastating.
“With the cost of living crisis, we are already seeing a rise in people coming to us for free debt help. Sadly, we expect this rise to continue unless urgent action is taken to ease the impact of the increase in energy costs and wider inflation.
“The support package announced by the Government today will provide some relief to millions of UK households extremely worried about the cost of their energy bills.
However, we are concerned that this £9bn package of support only covers half the energy price increase households are facing on average, and more assistance is needed to stop low income households falling into greater fuel poverty.
“At Christians Against Poverty we have a number of recommendations that we’d like to see the Government implement as soon as possible, to protect those low income families who we know will be hit the hardest by the energy crisis.
“Key to these, we would like to see the £200 energy rebate the Government announced today, paid in April, not October which will be too late for many households struggling now. We also need a more significant increase in the Warm Home Discount Scheme which is only planned to increase by £10 in Winter 2022/23. This would allow for financial assistance to be delivered quickly, and provide those households with additional support right away.
“Alongside this, we are asking the Government for an exceptional increase in benefits rates in April, from 3.1% to 7.25%. This will allow payments to keep pace with the unusually steep rise in inflation, and help low-income households meet the higher cost of living across all consumer areas.
“Most importantly, these measures need to be brought in quickly enough to help low income households ahead of the energy prices rises in April, and not only support them through the initial shock of higher prices but make sure households can afford the cost of higher bills which are expected to last for at least two years.”