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MPs urge winter energy bill help for households

A cross-party committee of MPs has issued a pressing appeal to the UK government, energy regulator Ofgem and energy suppliers, urging them to take swift action to assist vulnerable households as winter draws near.

The call to action follows a report released by the Energy Security and Net Zero (ESNZ) Committee, which conducted a rapid inquiry into the readiness of government and energy companies for the approaching winter season.

Last year witnessed many households resorting to extreme measures and sacrifices to stay warm, resulting in a disturbing 50% surge in excess winter deaths, totalling more than 4,700.

While recognising the unprecedented support provided in the previous year, the committee expressed concern that no new specific financial aid has been announced.

They also stressed that managing high energy costs during winter would be compounded by broader cost of living pressures and accumulating energy debts.

In today’s report, the committee demands a targeted support package from the government, designed to aid vulnerable groups and emphasises the necessity for energy companies to adopt a more proactive and compassionate approach to customer service.

One striking concern highlighted in the report is the £440 million allocated for energy bill support last year, which remains unallocated and has been returned to the Treasury.

The committee calls on the government to ensure that all households previously excluded from the Energy Bills Support Scheme receive immediate payments.

To further assist vulnerable households, the committee outlines strategies for utilising existing mechanisms to provide aid and recommends extending the Warm Home Discount.

Additionally, they suggest the implementation of a social tariff, in collaboration with energy suppliers.

The report also advocates for a revised Cold Weather Payment system to be in place before anticipated cold weather events, as well as for local authorities to share best practices on delivering the Household Support Fund.

Angus Brendan MacNeil, Chair of the ESNZ Committee, said: “The nights are now drawing in and many of our most vulnerable people will be haunted by harrowing memories of the relentless sacrifices they were forced into last year, just to keep their heads above water in the face of exorbitant energy costs.

“In fact, one in four carry energy debts from last winter. With the challenge this winter threatening to be even worse, an announcement of support from the government is long overdue.”

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson told Energy Live News: “The Energy Price Guarantee will remain in place to protect people until April next year – part of nearly £40billion of support to cover around half a typical household bill.

“This winter, additional targeted support is available to those most in need through our Warm Home Discount – with 3 million of the most vulnerable households expected to benefit – and we recently launched our £1 billion Great British Insulation Scheme to help more than 300,000 families save on bills and heat their homes.

“We continue to keep all options under review, including for the most vulnerable households.

“Landlords must respond swiftly when dealing with damp and mould to ensure renters can live in safe and decent housing and the government will introduce Awaab’s Law, setting time limits on social landlords to make repairs.”

Energy Live News
Energy Live News
This article first appeared on Energy Live News, an award winning news service. Their mission is to give you balanced news, analysis, commentary of energy from their dedicated team of quality journalists and production staff.
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