UNISON leader Dave Prentis has warned that the massive 10 per cent price hike announced by the British Gas energy privateer yesterday will lead to an increase in deaths from cold this winter.
British Gas announced it is to increase prices for domestic customers, with a dual-fuel bill going up by 9.2% from 23 November.
The increase, which will affect nearly eight million people in the UK, involves an 8.4% rise in gas prices and a 10.4% increase in electricity prices, with the average household bill set to go up by £123 to £1,444 a year.
British Gas managing director Ian Peters claimed he ‘understands the frustration’ of prices rising faster than incomes and that ‘we haven’t taken this decision lightly’.
Unison general secretary Prentis said: ‘This latest round of price rises from energy companies delivers a hammer blow to family finances at the worst possible time of year.
‘Winter is fast approaching and millions of customers are already struggling to pay their bills.
‘With price rises across the economy outstripping wages, many will face the dilemma of putting on the fire or putting food on the table.
‘This is a crisis in the making and the government needs to tackle fuel poverty head-on or we will see the number of deaths from cold rising in the winter.’
Tim Nichols from the Child Poverty Action Group told News Line: ‘This price rise comes on the same day that the government’s child poverty commissioner has published a major report warning about rising child poverty.
‘The poorest families are getting the worst deal from energy providers because so many are stuck on pre-payment meters that have the highest price of all.
‘We urgently need government intervention to ensure fair prices for struggling families.’
Age UK Director, Caroline Abrahams, said: ‘Energy bills are already a huge concern for many pensioners who will be dreading this new round of price hikes.
‘Many thousands of older people face a daily battle to stay warm during winter, risking their health by keeping the heating low to avoid running up a bill they can’t afford.
‘With fuel poverty levels set to rise, now is the time for the government to end this national disgrace.’