Fears over fuel poverty exacerbated by rising energy prices as charities fight corner of those in need
THE head of a charity that looks after the elderly has advised customers not to switch energy providers as fears grow about the cost of fuel this winter.
The rising wholesale cost of energy has seen costs passed to consumers, with some energy firms going bust as they are losing money. There are fears that when the energy price cap is re-set in April that thousands of people could be plunged into fuel poverty – adding to fears of how people will afford to keep themselves warm this winter.
Rory Massey, chief operating officer of Age UK Portsmouth, said: ‘It is a concern for everyone. Fuel poverty has been around for a long time but has been exacerbated by the energy price rises this time.
‘We have not noticed a huge increase on calls from people concerned about energy but the winter months are always a concern. It is a tough period for the elderly.
‘Our advice to people is not to change energy suppliers. It is not one firm that is trying to increase prices, the price increase is general so it is futile trying to get a better price elsewhere.
‘So the best advice is not to make any rash decisions. We are all going to have ride this wave together.’
Initiatives to help those struggling have been made through Portsmouth City Council’s Switched On campaign.
Age UK Portsmouth has also working alongside the NHS to support the elderly in a number of ways to reduce hospital admissions.
These range from buying their shopping to offering free energy home checks and installing devices around the home to help this such as energy efficient light bulbs and radiator reflectors.
With energy bills expected to rise again in April to reflect the rising wholesale price of gas, thousands of households are expected to be plunged into fuel crisis.
The energy price cap was raised at the start of the month to limit the impact of the sharply rising fuel prices.
But charity National Energy Action says 1.2m to 1.5m additional households will be plunged into fuel poverty.
Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, has called for the government to ‘put some more cash in the pockets of the financially vulnerable households’ who are fearful about energy price rises.
He added: ‘At the moment we’ve got some mechanisms which are there to protect consumers, the price cap, certain rebates, other mechanisms, but they’re for a well-functioning, competitive, energy market. They’re not fit for the challenge of the cost-of-living crisis that we face at the moment.
‘What we need to see, in the short term is the government, through the treasury, stepping in at the Budget and saying, “we will take measures to put some more cash, either in the pockets of the most financially vulnerable households, or find some rebates to reduce the exposure of the prices”.’
Another round of meetings between industry and government continued on Monday over the energy crisis that bosses warn could close some factories. Sectors such as ceramics, paper and steel manufacturing have called for a price cap, but talks with the government on Friday failed to reach a solution.