As energy bills keep climbing, many households are already making difficult choices between heating and eating. These choices are only set to get harder.
The energy price cap increase scheduled for October means bills will increase by 80%. An average energy bill will now reach £3,549 with further rises expected in January 2023 which will take bills over £5,000 a year. Households face a very expensive winter which many will simply be unable to afford.
UNISON’s research shows that there are already public service workers who are arriving home from frontline jobs and sitting in the dark, unable to afford to turn their lights on. So, the measure of success for government policies should be that no-one is left in fuel poverty, so that every home is able to turn on their heating when it gets cold.
Immediate action to stop energy costs rising is vital – including freezing the price cap so that households don’t face a financial cliff edge in October. Without this, households which were just about managing will be pushed into poverty and debt, while those already struggling will suffer through the winter in cold, dark homes. There will be a severe and irreversible impact on health, especially for older and disabled people.
In the longer term, quick fixes on prices aren’t enough – they simply props up a broken system and subsidises the profits of private energy companies. It has long been the policy of UNISON that reform of the energy market should mean public ownership, so that private profit has no place in the provision of essential public utilities.