Half of British households are facing fuel poverty this winter, unless the Government does more to help ease energy bills, warned EDF Energy (EDF) – one of the UK’s big five energy suppliers
A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if it has to spend 10 per cent or more of its disposable income on energy.
Philippe Commaret, managing director for customers at EDF Energy UK, told the BBC that people face a “catastrophic winter” without further support.
Earlier this year, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £15bn support package – including £400 payments to all households to reduce fuel bills.
This was based on forecasts from Ofgem that the price cap would climb to £2,800 per year.
Energy users are expected to receive the support in October, however predictions for the price cap have spiked amid continued volatility in Europe and supply shortages, with Russia squeezing the troubled continent.
The price cap is expected to climb to an eye-watering £3,500 per year in October, with multiple forecasters predicting the cap could rise above £5,000 per year next Spring.
Auxilione has predicted the cap will soar to a painful peak of £6,552 in April, and remain historically high into 2024.
Industry calls for more household support
Opposition parties including Labour and Liberal Democrats alongside most major energy suppliers are calling for further support for households, including for the energy price cap to be frozen at current levels.
Bill Bullen, chief executive of Utilita Energy, is the latest chief executive to call for a price cap freeze, with suppliers coalescing around the concept of a deficit fund, where they would take loans from banks which consumers would pay back over 10-15 years.
The Government has said no further measures will be announced before a new Prime Minister is in place from 5 September – with Liz Truss widely expected to win the leadership race against Rishi Sunak.
Commaret argued current level of support was “much too low” and called for additional help to be provided, including short-term help with bills and longer-term solutions such as better insulation for homes.
EDF had seen a 30 per cent rise in calls from customers under stress and struggling to pay their bills, he said.
“All ideas to keep bills for customers flat should be considered,” he said, when asked about a potential VAT cut for billpayers.
“Without further support from the government, more than half of UK households will likely be in fuel poverty by January.”
The new energy price cap will be announced on Friday, which will kick in from 1 October.
Meanwhile, EDF has also launched a Fresh Start campaign, to help those with existing debt as well as helping others to create up to £100 of savings through the use of its free Energy Hub platform.
It said 100,000 customers will also be contacted to make sure they are aware of all of the help available to them.