The National Consumer Council (NCC) and energywatch today warn the government and the energy industry that time is fast running out to eradicate a Victorian affliction that still haunts our affluent 21st century society.
While all eyes are on the government’s imminent energy white paper, and its big-picture plans for future energy policy, almost four million UK households – twice as many as 2003 – struggle to afford to heat their homes adequately.
They need to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on gas and electricity – almost three times the share of everyone else. Poorly heated and insulated homes, high energy prices and low incomes conspire to make their lives a misery – and give the UK one of the worst fuel poverty records in northern Europe.
The country’s biggest gas supplier on Thursday warned of higher energy bills as shivering consumers turned up their heating to stave off freezing weather.
British Gas said surging wholesale costs would force all the country’s suppliers to raise bills further in 2006 after double digit increases this year.
“With wholesale prices where they are, all suppliers are going to have to put prices up in 2006, and I think that is inevitable,” said British Gas managing director Mark Clare.