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Fiscal statement ‘crucial opportunity’ to get more support to people on the lowest incomes, say Citizens Advice

22 September 2022

The charity is calling on the government to prioritise helping people at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis now, while also finding long-term solutions to the UK’s energy inefficient homes.

Citizens Advice is warning many being helped by its frontline advisers are already in dire circumstances even before winter:

  • Citizens Advice is sadly continuing to see huge demand for its services and referring record-breaking numbers of people to crisis support (such as food banks and charitable grants). Almost 150,000 people have been referred for this type of support since January - a 53% increase on the same period last year, and a 170% increase on 2019. 

  • Draughty, inefficient homes mean people living in properties with an energy performance rating of F are losing £950 worth of the heat they pay for a year through their walls, windows and roof. 

  • The charity also warns that an energy price freeze at £2,500 will still leave many unable to cover their essential costs. It analysed the budgets of people it helps with debt assessments and found that come October:

    • Someone with an annual income of less than £20,000 would be £61.20-a-month in the red at the end of the month

    • A disabled person will be on average £51.16-a-month in the red 

    • A single parent will have just £23.46-a-month leftover for unexpected costs

For more insights see Citizens Advice’s latest data dashboard.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“An energy price freeze will not be enough to reverse the crisis we’re already seeing. This is a crucial opportunity to reassure people struggling the most so they won’t spend the winter scared to turn the heating on or getting by on trips to the food bank.

‘Support is needed to keep the cold out - now and in the long term so people can make their homes more energy efficient.”

Citizens Advice’s three key priorities for the fiscal statement:

  1. Targeted support - Not everyone is feeling this crisis in the same way and existing support is being swallowed up by rising prices. Universal measures risk leaving behind those struggling the most. The government must provide targeted help to people at the sharp end of this crisis to get through the winter.

  2. Exit strategy - The government must look at long-term solutions to the energy crisis. Bills are sky high, but cold and draughty houses mean people are effectively throwing money out the window, cash they don’t have to spare. Helping people with the upfront costs of making their homes more energy efficient, including grants for insulation, should be a top priority.

  3. Clarity on how the government will pay for the energy price cap -  A price freeze has been announced, now we need confirmation this won’t bump up household’s energy costs for years to come. Citizens Advice’s estimates suggest that if a £100billion support package was paid back over the next ten years, it could add an extra £400-a-year to people’s bills. This is totally unacceptable when energy prices remain at unprecedented levels.

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice is made up of the national charity Citizens Advice; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.

  2. Our network of charities offers impartial advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free. 

  3. We helped 2.4 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat in 2020-21. And we had 40 million visits to our website. For full service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.

  4. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,600 service outlets across England and Wales.

  5. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and postal markets. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers. 

  6. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for Welsh language speakers.