Cost of living crisis: Charity sees demand for emergency energy fuel top-ups double

Ahead of the energy price cap announcement on Friday 26 August, debt help charity says it’s already receiving desperate calls from people in emergency situations. 

The current situation

With concerns of a possible 81 percent price cap increase by Ofgem*, raising the average household energy bill to £3,582 a year** debt help charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is sounding the alarm that they are already seeing increases in desperate clients asking for emergency support.

Last year CAP helped over 13,000 clients and already this year it has seen a 37 percent increase in calls to its helpline. Among those clients, CAP has seen a doubling in pleas for emergency fuel top-ups in the first half of this year compared to last, along with a sharp rise in requests for emergency food shops.

* Energy price cap does not apply to Northern Ireland
** Forecast by Cornwall Insight.

A comment from Director of External Affairs at Christians Against Poverty, Gareth McNab

On Friday 26 August Ofgem will confirm the new energy price cap, with devastating impacts on household finances right across the country. The impact of this will be to increase energy prices from levels that are already causing many low income households serious distress, to previously unthinkable amounts that are expected to rise again in January. 

Across the UK, many families are already struggling with the devastating impacts of widespread price rises. Many coming to CAP are facing destitution. The amount of calls we are seeing has shot up this year and the type of calls we are receiving are becoming more and more desperate. People aren’t just calling us for free debt help, they are calling us in need of emergency support.

CAP’s clients are increasingly telling us that they won’t be able to heat their homes, feed their families, or be able to pay for the most basic essentials like toiletries and clothing. Heading into winter, the stark choices being forced on people between starving or freezing are terrifying and should shock us all into action. Just last month CAP saw a tripling of client requests for fuel top-ups compared to last year, from people who simply don’t have sufficient income. 

On the frontline, staff at our 300 debt centres across the country are hearing heart-breaking stories from clients. Clients like a woman who, despite CAP’s debt advice and support, faced having only £1.87 left each week for food after all her other essential bills were paid. The Government must act now.”

What can we do?

CAP is calling on both the UK and Scottish Governments to take immediate action to mitigate the worst impacts of the cost of living crisis this winter. This includes:

  • At least double the support committed so far to households on means tested benefits and the wider Energy Bill Support Scheme

  • Pausing benefit deductions for repayments to debts owed to the UK Government for six months which will benefit people on the lowest incomes the most.

  • Speed up the uprating of social security where the inflation level in September dictates the increase in payments from the following April — this needs to be done much more quickly wherever possible.

  • A ban this winter on energy companies forcibly switching customers to pre-payment meters and a moratorium on court action to collect energy debts.


Importantly, CAP is also urging people who are struggling with debt not to ignore it, but to get in contact for free debt help on 0800 328 0006 or visit capuk.org.

Journalists

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity determined to reduce poverty by delivering free debt help, money management education, life skills courses and job clubs, all through local churches. Find out more about CAP at capuk.org/about-us.

CAP is committed to its services being available to all individuals regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

CAP Senior PR Officer, Joe Beardsall: [email protected] , 07449 113182.

CAP PR Manager, Susan Littlemore: [email protected], 07449 167058.

PR team: [email protected]