news & Things

Energy Bills Increase Could Devastate Households Financially – What’s Being Done To Help?

04th Apr 2022

The results of a recent survey by the StepChange charity has shown that nearly half of 25-49 year olds will not be able to pay bills – or at least, they expect not to be able to.

More needs to be done to help the most vulnerable, and the debt charity is calling upon the chancellor to use this week’s Spring Statement to address those needs.

The debt charity is also calling upon Rishi Sunak to provide more assistance both with energy bills and with increasing welfare benefits.

Without these added safety nets in place, there is a risk of people falling into ‘problem debt’ as the charity states.

However, Mr Sunak has said that he cannot “fully protect” people from the growing cost of energy bills.


What’s to be done?

StepChange suggests an (at least) 7% in benefits in April to try coinciding with the rate of rising prices.

Additionally, it wants more funding to be allocated to local councils in order to better meet the needs of the community, especially those with vouchers, grants or discretionary payments to cover essential bills.

The leading debt charity is also aiming to block energy companies from attempting debt recovery from households who struggle to cover the cost of their bills, as well as calling for the Warm Home Discount to be expanded upon.

The calls come following results of StepChange’s survey, polled via YouGov, which showed a worrying one in five people believe they will fall into a debt that they can’t pay back this year.

42% of the 1,676 surveyed adults said they might struggle to cope with the rising costs of living in the coming months, including the rising energy bills and council tax.

Further modelling by the debt charity has shown that, if energy bills hit £3,000 per year – which isn’t impossible – the most vulnerable households could end up spending £1 In every £6 they earn just on energy costs alone.


“I wish government could solve absolutely every problem and that I could fully protect people against all the challenges that lie ahead.

I can’t do that, but what I would say is, I will stand by them in the same way that I have done in the past couple of years.”

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

The government’s price cap is set to rise next month which is expected to throw millions of households into a sharp turmoil as the energy bills rise.

The typical household will be paying 54% more than what they pay now under the higher cap – and a further rise is expected in October.

It’s not just energy bills rising – the cost of petrol and diesel has skyrocketed in recent weeks too, resulting in more than 50 conservative MPs calling for a cut in fuel duty to bring the costs back down.


“I think household incomes are entering a storm and they are going to be battered from all sides, energy, food, interest rates rising and so there is a role from the Treasury now to try to smooth the effect of this shock.”

Robert Jenrick, Former Housing Minister

Carl Emmerson, the deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank said that cutting fuel duty would provide targeted help for individuals and businesses who buy a lot of motor fuel. He also said that the move was something that the chancellor could afford, however:


“I think the problem with cutting fuel duty is that it never turns out to be temporary”.

Carl Emmerson, Deputy Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Think-Tank

Fuel duty has been frozen for more than 10 years, despite the fact that it is supposed to rise automatically each year.

Mr Emmerson added ways the chancellor will have to choose how to help. It could be between broader help, which offers some help to most households, or it could be that more targeted interventions are needed and thus most help will be given to the most vulnerable.


“If you go broad, you can only really shield people from a bit of the pain”

Carl Emmerson, Deputy Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Think-Tank

“Government must pull every lever at its disposal in order to protect those on the lowest incomes from the scars of debt and destitution.

“While the initial raft of support announced in February was welcome, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated an already difficult situation and more action is clearly needed,”

Phil Andrew, StepChange Chief Executive

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