Thank you for contacting me about rising energy bills.
For anyone with worries or issues regarding their own bills, I can raise the specific concerns of constituents as individual cases with the appropriate agencies. Anybody resident in the Calder Valley constituency can contact my office to discuss what we might do to help.
Current inflation is being driven by rising energy costs, provoked by surging demand after the pandemic as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which in turn has put pressures on living costs. The Government has taken steps to help the lowest-income households through these extraordinary times: reducing the Universal Credit taper rate; increasing the National Living Wage; freezing fuel duty for the thirteenth consecutive year; and launching a Household Support Fund, the total funding for which has now reached £2.5 billion.
Since Ofgem’s confirmation of the first price cap rise, the Government has put forward an ambitious support package to help both lower and middle-income earners with the immediate adjustment. This included a £400 grant for energy bills for all which gave households a monthly discount on their electricity bills between October 2022 and March 2023. Further, a non-repayable £150 cash rebate was provided for homes in Council Tax bands A-D, equivalent to 80 per cent of all households and £144 million of discretionary funding from Government has been distributed by local authorities to support those who were not eligible for the council tax rebate. This means that hard working families have received £550 with lower income families receiving even more help. During the course of this financial year, 8 million households on means-tested benefits will receive three payments totalling £900 per household.
The Government's Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) is giving people certainty over their bills. This guarantee limits the amount you can be charged per unit of gas or electricity. The current price guarantee, set at £3,000, will support households between now and April 2024, ensuring that households are supported through the rest of the year. Although energy prices are currently below the level at which EPG payments would be made, it will remain in force until the end of March 2024 to protect households from price spikes, putting in place a safety net for households up and down the country.
The rising global prices for fossil fuels, especially gas, are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The UK is vulnerable to global price volatility as it is a net importer of natural gas and ultimately, this feeds into all customer energy bills in the UK. Electricity prices are heavily impacted by rising gas prices because gas is one of the fuels used to generate electricity. This is why I welcome the Government’s Energy Security Strategy, which could see 95 per cent of all UK electricity generation be low carbon by 2030, which will reduce reliance on gas, but also help meet the statutory decarbonisation target of net zero by 2050.
More broadly, I know that the Government is working to reduce bills and tackle fuel poverty, for example through the introduction of home energy efficiency measures. The Government’s Energy Company Obligation and the expanded Warm Home Discount schemes will also provide at least £4.7 billion of extra support to low-income and vulnerable households between 2022 and 2026.
Additionally, many who struggle financially use pre-payment meters for which is why the Government is removing the premium for those four million households, bringing their costs in line with comparable households on Direct Debits.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP