Energy bills will rise by 50% average family to pay £2,000 – Pensioners risk freezing to death – Age UK

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Safe homes protest demanding action on cladding, damp and fire safety after the Grenfell Tower inferno

BILLS are set to rise by 50% in April when the latest change to the energy price cap takes effect, it emerged yesterday, while Age UK warns that vulnerable people risk freezing to death in their homes.

Experts have predicted that rising wholesale costs will drive up bills by so much that an average household on a supplier’s default tariff would face paying nearly £2,000 a year for gas and electricity, compared to under £1,300 at the moment.
Yesterday, Labour proposed removing VAT on bills for a year, and a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers as part of a package designed to save households hundreds of pounds on their energy costs.
Age UK, the charity which campaigns on behalf of older people, warned that more than seven million older people across Britain are worried about heating their homes this winter, amid the soaring energy bill costs.
And nearly half of those aged 60 or over are concerned about the cost of keeping warm, with some having to choose whether to ‘eat or heat’.
Age UK is demanding:

  • The government provides an additional one-off payment of £50 to everyone eligible for the Cold Weather Payment to help with their energy bills and give people the confidence to stay warm;
  • Cold Weather Payments should also be expedited to ensure that payments in arrears arrive no later than seven working days after a spell of cold weather;
  • The Household Support Fund to be doubled to provide £1bn of funding, ‘so that fewer vulnerable households are forced to make the difficult choice between heating and eating during the coldest months’;
  • For longer term protection against soaring energy bills, the government to ensure the energy price cap is enshrined in law;
  • The reintroduction of a social tariff into the energy market to offer protection against high energy costs.

Low temperatures can be particularly dangerous for those with respiratory diseases, arthritis, or heart problems, and with around 1.4 million older Britons already living in fuel poverty, Age UK is concerned that rising bills will lead to many thousands more suffering over the coming months.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘As temperatures plummet this winter, millions of vulnerable older people are feeling trapped at home, too scared to go out for fear of catching Covid, and too scared to turn the heating on for fear of racking up a bill they can’t afford.
‘We cannot let a situation continue where people are so worried about rising bills that they either put their health at risk by not keeping their homes warm enough, or feel forced to cut back on meals to make ends meet.
‘No-one should have to make the impossible choice between eating and putting their heating on.
‘If the government does not provide urgent financial support to change this – at a time when new restrictions encouraging us to stay at home seem a distinct possibility – it could mean a tragedy for many older people. The cost of cold has never been higher.’
Dave Wiltshire, secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance said: ‘The entire energy sector must be immediately nationalised without a penny compensation to the huge capitalist energy firms profiteering while vulnerable people freeze to death in their homes.
‘The trade unions must take action and take action now before anymore people freeze to death. The TUC must call a general strike on this issue and bring this government down.’