Charities call on Chancellor to introduce discounted energy bills for low-income households

New research by Age UK reveals strong support for a social energy tariff amongst the over-60s, with 71 per cent – increasing to 76 per cent of those with a disability – agreeing that a social energy tariff should be available for those who need it most. 

Some 95 Charities and non-profit organisations across the UK have joined together to call on the Government for more targeted support in the form of a social tariff for the energy market to help older and disabled households heat their homes.

The call is reinforced by data that show:

  • Seven in 10 older people support a social energy tariff for low-income households
  • One in four older disabled people are living in cold homes
  • New Fuel Poverty Monitor report which investigates the impact of the energy crisis on fuel poor households recommends the introduction of a new social tariff – a targeted discount energy deal for those at risk of fuel poverty
  • From April 2023, number of fuel poor households expected to rise to 8.4m across the UK

National Energy Action (NEA) estimates that the energy crisis has pushed over 6.7 million UK households into fuel poverty, up from 4.5 million in October 2021.  A social tariff would support low-income households who face a double burden from the rising cost of bills and paying more for their energy due to the poverty premium.

Age UK, Fair by Design, NEA and Scope are warning that many older and disabled people, their carers and low-income households are facing an uncertain future as they grapple with unaffordable energy bills. Age UK’s new polling shows that a quarter (24 per cent) of over-60s are living in homes which are colder than they would like them to be, rising to 27 per cent for older people with a disability.

Collectively, they are calling for targeted support to be made available to those who need it most – including those on means-tested benefits, disability benefits and Carer’s Allowance as well as those missing out on welfare support but still struggling with their bills. They are deeply concerned that further price rises and a withdrawal of universal energy support from April 2023, will leave many older and disabled people in a increasingly desperate situation.  Demand for the Charities’ services is high and they are being inundated with calls from people in dire need, for example those relying on medical equipment like dialysis machines, who are facing a daily struggle to keep their equipment turned on and stay warm and well.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Imagine having to choose between staying warm, feeding your family, or powering essential medical equipment. This is the reality for increasing numbers of older and disabled households across the country.  

“Older people are struggling to get by now, and that’s before another energy price increase comes their way in a few months’ time. Many will simply not be able to cope with further price rises and we’re extremely concerned their health and wellbeing will pay the price. There needs to be much more protection for those who have no other means of paying such extortionate energy costs. The Government must introduce a social tariff for the energy market whilst prices are so high, and ensure we never face a crisis like this again.”

Age UK and Scope are also calling on the public to lend their support to help protect older and disabled people from unaffordable energy bills by signing a letter to the Government.

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