Supporting energy customers as bills rise: A good practice guide for Winter
Many people are currently struggling with spiralling living costs, driven by record-breaking wholesale gas prices. To help shield consumers from the imminent price cap rise in October, the Government announced that they will be implementing an ‘energy price guarantee’ - freezing the price that consumers will pay per unit of gas or electricity for the next two years. This means that the average household will pay £2,500 on their energy bill. All households in Great Britain will receive this support, in addition to any other part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme that they are eligible for.
While this support is welcome, it is not likely to go far enough:
The average bill under the energy household guarantee will still be double what consumers were paying a year ago, meaning that many will still struggle to make ends meet.
Higher usage households will see much less benefit from the freeze, as they will still need to use more energy. This will particularly affect customers who are disabled, older or who live in inefficient homes.
With the price cap currently set over £500 below the energy price guarantee, millions of households are already struggling with their energy bills. In the context of other rising living costs, it’s unlikely that the support provided will be enough for those on lower incomes.
When prices rise in October, millions of people could still be pushed into hardship and debt. The impact of high prices will be felt even more acutely by prepayment customers who are at risk of being off-supply if they can’t top up.
Suppliers have obligations to support struggling customers, and many will need extra help this winter.
This document is aimed at energy suppliers, and summarises existing expectations and good practice to support people in the cost of living crisis. It builds on the expectations outlined in the joint letter from debt charities on protecting energy customers in difficult circumstances.