Energy price cap to fall from Sunday, but campaigners call for more support for vulnerable people

29 September 2023, 08:11

The energy price cap is set to fall
The energy price cap is set to fall. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

The average household will pay less for energy from this weekend as the price cap falls, but prices will still be higher than before the energy crisis kicked in.

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The energy price cap is coming down on Sunday (October 1) meaning a reduction in the average household's energy bill to £1,923, from £2,074 at present and £2,500 last winter.

But the price cap is still relatively high: the average household had an annual bill of £1,277 in the winter of 2021.

The cap does not set a limit on bills themselves, and how much a household owes depends on how much they use.

Many people will not see much of a difference in their bills compared to last winter, because the government gave out £400 to each household last winter to help with skyrocketing energy costs.

Read more: Sunak hails 'really good news' as energy bills to fall by £150 in relief for families hoping to avoid another expensive winter

Read more: Energy firms accused of hoarding nearly £2billion of customers' money

Energy bills to rise for many despite reduction in price cap, experts warn

That meant the average monthly cost of energy went down to £141 but this year average costs from October to December 2023 will rise to £160, unless the government announces more support.

More than a third of British adults said they though they would struggle to pay energy bills this winter without help from the government, according to a YouGov survey.

And 140 charities and MPs have called on Rishi Sunak to introduce a 'social tariff' for energy bills - meaning lower cost packages for people on low incomes.

Groups like National Energy Action, Citizens Advice and Age UK told the Prime Minister that vulnerable people needed "targeted support".

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty

"These are people whose bills have become so unaffordable that they are having to make the desperate choice nobody should have to make - between heating and eating," they said.

"This is a long-term problem that requires a sustainable safety net for these people. Anything else will be a costly sticking plaster."

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, said: "From October 1, all households in every part of the country will pay more on energy standing charges, more into the profits of energy firms and many are more in debt to their suppliers.

"Average energy bills are still almost double what they were three years ago and Government help for households, which was available last winter, has been axed. This means this winter will feel worse for many households.

"If Members of Parliament on the House of Commons Energy Security Committee can see problems households will face, why can't the Government?"

It comes as a survey suggested that 23% of households are planning to delay turning on their heating this year due to high costs.

The study for Uswitch found that young people were less worried about energy bills, with 38% of those aged 18 to 34 having turned the heating on already compared with 24% of 35 to 55-year-olds and just 17% of over-55s.

Uswitch energy spokeswoman Natalie Mathie said: "Nearly a quarter of people say they'll turn on the heating later this year to save money on energy bills, and it's concerning that two million households plan to get through winter without heating.

"If you don't want to turn the heating on yet, there are cost-effective alternatives for staying warm, like using a portable heater, hot water bottle, or electric blanket.

"There's nothing worse than having your boiler break down when it's freezing outside and every engineer is busy, so it makes sense to check your boiler is serviced now."

Opinium surveyed 2,000 UK residents online for uSwitch between September 15-19.

Regulator Ofgem said that with energy prices easing, they would allow suppliers to make more money off their customers.

Chief executive Jonathan Brearley said: "This means there should be no excuses for suppliers not to be doing all they can to support their customers this winter, and to reinforce this we'll be introducing a consumer code of conduct which we will look to have in place by winter."