Support on energy bills is “strange, complicated and untargeted”, says Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice has responded to today’s announcement of a £693rise to the energy price cap and measures outlined by the government to support people with their bills. This comes as the charity faces record demand for crisis support, with more people seeking its advice in January than at any point since the pandemic began.
Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Today’s price cap rise means we’ll all see our energy bills rocket in April. Worryingly, even before these price hikes kick in, we’re seeing record numbers of people needing crisis support like food vouchers.
“This is a strange, complicated and untargeted package of measures. It provides some relief for all households come April, but for people on low incomes who need it most there are far easier ways for the government to deliver support. If the government is serious about helping families facing the desperate choice between heating and eating it should use the benefits system.
“Energy rebates are a buy now pay later solution which only provide temporary relief later this year. And linking financial assistance to Council Tax will result in a complicated lottery that means support is not targeted at people who really need it. ”
Millions already behind on bills and struggling to get by ahead of April’s hike
Citizens Advice has warned its data is at ‘red alert’ levels. More people turned to the charity for help in January than at any point since the pandemic began. Its advisers are helping record numbers with energy debt advice and referrals for crisis support like food bank vouchers and one-off charitable grants
Nationally representative polling commissioned by Citizens Advice in January 2022 shows that huge numbers will be unable to afford April’s price cap rise:
More than one in seven (16%) would not be able to cover the anticipated average price cap rise of £60 per month. That is equivalent to around 8.5 million people
This rises to over a quarter (27%) of disabled people and more than a third (36%) of people on Universal Credit
Almost one in 10 (9%) are already in energy arrears, even before the price cap rise
Today’s increase will affect at least 22 million households - nearly 80% of the national market - who are on the price cap
Notes to editors
- Based on a representative poll of 6,000 adults (18+) in the UK conducted by ICM Unlimited for Citizens Advice, fieldwork conducted between 7 and 25 January 2022
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