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UK facing energy crisis horror as hundreds of thousands of Britons trapped in debt over soaring bills | Science | News

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Recent data has revealed that a staggering two million households have been in debt over their energy bills through the second quarter of this yr. As household bills have hit recent highs every few months, a record variety of Britons are in arrears over their electricity payments. Over the past yr, households across the country have faced the worst effects of a worldwide fossil fuel energy crisis, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent wholesale gas prices spiralling to record levels. From October, Ofgem raised the worth cap on household energy bills to £2,500, greater than twice the figure they paid only a yr before. 

This has placed Britons in a precarious position, as data from the energy regulator Ofgem has revealed that at the tip of June, 2,347,511 households were behind on their electricity bills and 1,858,585 on their gas bills. Inside just three months, each figures have risen by a few quarter, and by nearly two-thirds because the end of 2020. 

This report comes as the brand new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last week scrapped former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ plans to freeze the energy price cap for 2 years, limiting it to 6 months, and set for it to get replaced by a targetted scheme.

Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Motion, said: “With over two million households already in arrears with their energy bills, it’s deeply worrying but not unsurprising.

“Bills have almost doubled in a yr, and we haven’t yet seen the total impact of the most recent price increase. We’re also now approaching winter and as temperatures drop many persons are afraid to show the heating on and even keep the lights on.

“It’s going to be a bleak and cold winter for essentially the most vulnerable and unless the brand new prime minister acts urgently we might expect the variety of households in arrears to extend yet again next yr.”

Morgan Wild, head of policy at Residents Advice, said: “Our advisers have seen people resorting to unplugging fridges and freezers, washing clothes by hand and skipping meals to in the reduction of on their energy costs because they simply can’t afford to maintain the lights on.”

Last month, the charity reported seeing a record number of people that couldn’t afford to top up their prepayment meter, making it the eighth time this record has been broken within the last nine months.

Ms Wild said: “Even with the temporary bill freeze in place, the associated fee of energy will still be at a record high. This crisis isn’t going away.

READ MORE: British Gas primed for major ‘first step’ to swerve blackouts

“By the tip of September, we’d already helped more individuals with energy issues than we did for the entire of last yr with an unprecedented amount who just can’t afford to top up their prepayment meter. The Government must consider carefully before it acts so we don’t see even higher numbers at crisis point in April.”

Residents Advice also added that it had seen a pointy spike in people being forced onto prepayment meters, that are dearer and may easily run out of cash.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told the Guardian: “The Government’s energy price guarantee will save the everyday household about £700 this winter, based on what energy prices would have been under the present price cap – reducing bills by roughly a 3rd.

“This comes along with £1,200 direct payments to vulnerable households. Anyone struggling to pay their energy bills should contact their supplier as soon as possible to work out a reasonable payment plan, which suppliers must conform to do under Ofgem rules.”

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Meanwhile, the pressure group Warm This Winter has argued that, despite the energy price guarantee and the £400 energy bills payment, more support is required to forestall “severe health impacts of living in cold, damp homes crippling the NHS and causing excess winter deaths”.

The group are calling for support to be targeted at essentially the most vulnerable, arguing that a 3rd cost of living payment needs to be made on December 1 for those on income-based advantages.

Also they are campaigning for a suspension of all forced transfers of households onto dearer pre-payed meters whether by court warrant or smart meters.

Warm This Winter are calling for an additional £150 in disability advantages together with the restoration of the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

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