'I didn’t think it would be this bad': Martin Lewis warns energy bills could exceed £2,500

31 March 2022, 12:42 | Updated: 31 March 2022, 16:26

Martin Lewis warned that energy bills could rise to more than £2,500 by October as Britain faces a "catastrophic" cost of living crisis https://bit.ly/3JXR8Wm
Martin Lewis warned that energy bills could rise to more than £2,500 by October as Britain faces a "catastrophic" cost of living crisis https://bit.ly/3JXR8Wm. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Sophie Barnett

Martin Lewis has warned that energy bills could rise to more than £2,500 by October as Britain faces a "catastrophic" cost of living crisis.

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Speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty, the Money Saving Expert said people who saw £800 energy bills last year, face an increase to £1,970 tomorrow and then again to £2,500 in October, but he warned "it could be more".

He told Shelagh: "I didn't think it was going to be anywhere near as bad as this. I thought it was just going to be bad, I didn’t think it would be catastrophic."

Explaining that he had just been in a meeting with the Money and Mental Health charity, Mr Lewis issued another stark warning that the UK could see a rise in suicides as people struggle to make ends meet.

Speaking about the months ahead, he said: "There are huge physical health impacts of the rise in costs, you know when we are talking about starving or freezing, but lets not knock the mental health impacts."

He said many people whose self-esteem depends on them being able to provide for their family, are facing a "substantial" mental health issues due to the rise.

Read more: Mum 'uses wax melt burner to cook beans on toast for her kids' as cost of living soars

It comes after energy company E.ON blamed Martin Lewis for "bringing down Britain" after millions of customers swarmed its website to submit meter readings ahead of the price hike.

In a now-deleted tweet responding to a furious customer, E.ON wrote that all websites and phone lines are being "hammered" on what has been named 'Meter Reading Day'.

"Martin has once again created unprecedented demand bringing down Britain," the energy company added, referring to the money saving expert.

The tweet was sent to several other people before being deleted.

Martin Lewis, founder of the hugely successful moneysavingexpert.com website, who regularly make appearances on LBC, has been widely praised for his tips helping people cope with the cost of living crisis.

Only yesterday, E.ON itself issued an April 1 reminder for customers ahead of Ofgem's price cap rise.

E.ON was one of a number of energy websites to crash on Thursday as millions of people attempted to submit their meter readings to avoid being misestimated in their next bill.

British Gas and EDF Energy's websites faltered due to "unprecedented demand".

Martin Lewis tweeted about the website crashes, accusing companies of not being prepared for the volume of customers trying to submit readings.

Read more: Energy websites crash as people rush to give meter readings ahead of price hike

He wrote on Twitter: "Firms really should've been better prepared. It's not good enough. @ofgem please can you look into this."

"If you can't get to do a meter reading today, do it tomorrow, or Sunday, or Monday," he added.

"The nearer to today you do it the less chance of mis-estimates, so don't panic about missing it (either through your own or the firm's issue) just get it in as soon as you can. :)"

It comes after the money saving expert urged customers to submit their readings ahead of Friday, when Ofgem's price cap will rise.

Customers who submit readings ahead of the rise will prevent firms from being able to take estimates - potentially charging for energy used before April 1 at the higher rate.

Households will see the biggest rise in the cost of energy in living memory from Friday when bills increase by 54%, or almost £700, to just under £2,000 a year.

A spokesman for Energy UK, the trade association for the industry, said: "We're aware that some suppliers are experiencing issues with their websites due to the volume of customers submitting meter readings.

"Suppliers do offer alternative ways of doing this such as through automated phone lines and apps so we'd recommend customers try those. Customers with smart meters do not need to worry as their readings are automatically sent to their supplier."

An E.ON spokesperson said: “This was an ill-considered and off the cuff remark made by one of our Energy Specialists and in no way reflects our position.

"We have an excellent working relationship with Martin Lewis and his team, and we apologise for any offence caused. We ourselves have spent the past few weeks advising customers to submit accurate meter readings ahead of April 1st.

“We are seeing unprecedented volumes of customer traffic to our website and app.

"While we work to resolve this, we can confirm to our customers that any meter readings they take today can be updated to their account online in the coming days. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

"Smart meter customers do not need to do anything as their readings will automatically be shared with us.”

The issues - which appeared to be an industry-wide problem - came as experts urged householders to submit meter readings for gas and electricity to their supplier on Thursday to show exactly how much energy they have used ahead of Ofgem's price cap increasing from April 1.

This will prevent firms from estimating usage and potentially charging for energy used before April 1 at the higher rate.

A spokesman for Energy UK, the trade association for the industry, said: "We're aware that some suppliers are experiencing issues with their websites due to the volume of customers submitting meter readings.

"Suppliers do offer alternative ways of doing this such as through automated phone lines and apps so we'd recommend customers try those. Customers with smart meters do not need to worry as their readings are automatically sent to their supplier."

A message on the British Gas website told customers it was facing "some technical issues we're trying to resolve as quickly as possible".

The message said customers could still submit readings but warned it could take "a little time to update your account with the meter reading you provided today".

EDF Energy's website also reported problems, apparently as many people tried to submit their meter readings on their account.

The main page of EDF Energy was working, but when customers clicked through to the MyAccount page they were unable to log in.

A message on the page reads: "Sorry... We're carrying out some essential maintenance work on our site. We'll be up and running again soon."

E.On also seemed to be facing issues with letting customers log in to their accounts, while customers of So Energy reported that they were unable to either log in or get through on customer helplines.

According to Downdetector, E.ON, Scottish Power, British Gas and SSE all went down.

Households will see the biggest rise in the cost of energy in living memory from Friday when bills increase by 54%, or almost £700, to just under £2,000 a year.

Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, said: "We'd recommend sending meter readings to your supplier ahead of the price cap rise on 1 April. This means your energy company will have an accurate picture of your usage before higher rates come in.

"If you're struggling to pay your bill, speak to your energy provider as they have to help you. Citizens Advice can also provide you with free, independent support."

The energy price cap for those on default tariffs who pay by direct debit is rising by £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 from April 1.

If you are affected by any of the above and need emotional support then contact the Samaritans helpline 24 hours a day on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch or visit their website.