A leading charity tackling poverty is calling for reform of the Warm Home Discount as more than two million risk having their gas and electricity cut off this winter due to rising energy bills.
Citizens Advice is sounding the alarm that 1.7 million people were disconnected for their energy at least once a month last year.
Around 800,000 households went for more than 24 hours without gas and electricity in 2023 because they could not afford to top up their prepayment meter.
According to Citizens Advice, it has raised concerns with industry regulator Ofgem after it permitted EDF, Octopus and Scottish Power to return to forcibly fitting prepayment meters after a temporary ban.
Millions face a winter without gas and electricity
The charity’s latest research indicates that more than five million households are in debt to their energy supplier.
A survey carried out by Citizens Advice found that one in four Britons cannot afford their essential bills this winter.
Furthermore, one in 10 households have been forced to borrow money in the past six months to cover their energy bills.
Some 49 per cent of those in debt to their provider have turned off the heating in their homes, while nearly three million people live in homes where they have skipped meals or cut back on food spending.
In response to this crisis, Citizens Advice is urging the Government to reform the Warm Home Discount as it has failed to keep pace with rising prices.
The organisation believes the concession, which is worth £150, should be raised and made available to a great number of households.
On top of this, Citizens Advice is pushing for the Government to develop a joint action plan with Ofgem to tackle energy debt, including more funding for support.
The charity also wants the Government to work with Ofgem to develop a joint action plan to deal with energy debt, including increased funding for support to help meet spiralling demand.
Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty urged those struggling to reach out to the service for support as soon as possible.
She said: “Our frontline advisers are helping more people than ever who can’t pay their energy bill.
“Record numbers are in debt to their supplier and millions with a prepayment meter are too often going without heating and hot meals because they can’t afford to top up.
“The Government has not provided new energy bill support for those in need and has run out of time to develop the long-term approach it promised by April 2024. Without immediate action, we risk re-running this same crisis every winter.”