UK faces ‘public health crisis’ this winter, charities warn

Charities have warned that millions of Britons will face a ‘public health crisis’ this winter due to high energy bills, despite the government’s £150billion package to contain costs.

Calling for additional state support, anti-poverty groups said on Friday there was already evidence that some families were reducing the quantity and quality of food they bought in order to pay gas bills and of electricity, which will be almost double the level they were. in 2021.

Energy analysts said there were also early signs of a reduction in energy demand as households and businesses “self-ration” in response to rising prices.

A typical annual household energy bill will rise to £2,500 from October 1, up from £1,971 currently, although the precise amount depends on usage.

Prime Minister Liz Truss this month announced an unprecedented support package to ensure average domestic bills stay around this level for the next two years. Households will also receive an additional deduction of £400 this winter.

But charities have warned that around 6.7million, or more than a fifth of UK households, will still be in fuel poverty this winter, up from 4.5million a year earlier, given the rise in price.

The energy price cap, which dictates the bills of 24million households, was around £1,277 based on typical usage last winter.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of the charity National Energy Action, said rising energy bills were “unaffordable for millions” with people “already reducing the quality of what they eat as well as the amount”.

“The health and wellbeing impacts are devastating and will only get worse after Saturday’s price hike. It is a public health emergency,” he added.

A YouGov poll of more than 4,000 households released by the NEA on Friday showed that 24% of parents had reduced the amount of food they bought. One in ten said they ate cold meals to reduce their energy consumption.

Laura Sandys, president and founder of the charity Food Foundation, said the conditions meant “heating or eating may be out of the question for many” this winter.

“The cost of living crisis and rising energy bills will see children living in homes where there will no longer be that choice – they will be both hungry and cold,” she added.

Scorer and Sandys both urged the government to step up support for low-income households. The NEA and energy companies such as ScottishPower have long called for a separate, subsidized ‘social’ energy tariff for the poorest.

According to energy consultancy EnAppSys, demand for electricity in Britain in recent months has fallen by 9% compared to the same period last year and by 8% compared to 2019.

framework was criticized on Thursday for telling BBC Radio Leeds that the ‘maximum’ household energy bill this winter would be £2,500.

The government’s energy support program limits the unit price of electricity and gas that will be charged to households from October 1 to around 34 pence per kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity and 10.3 per kWh for gas , value added tax included. But a household’s overall bill will depend on usage.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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