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Britain heads for energy affordability crisis
Published:  30 May, 2012

Household energy will be 'unaffordable' in less than three years, forcing families to ration their heating, according to figures released today by uSwitch.com.

“The UK is hurtling towards a cliff beyond which the price of household energy will become unaffordable. Once the average bill hits £1,500 a year consumers will be forced to compromise on their comfort, health and well-being. Time is running out - if pricing trends continue we will hit ‘crunch point’ in less than three years and that is without factoring in the cost of current energy policy,” said Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com.

Around 6.5million people currently live in fuel poverty, meaning households have to spend more than 10% of their income to adequately heat their home.

Figures suggest that the price increase will force three quarters of households to ration their heating, with six in ten households (59%) going without adequate heating and almost four in ten (36%) switching their heating off entirely.

The forecast estimates bills will rise further into the region of £2,000 a year by 2016, compromising health and well-being for large proportions of the population.

It does not take into account, however, the impact of the government’s plans to cut carbon and switch to renewable energies.

Suppliers are already indicating that investment in technology to make their fuels greener could push bills up further and two of the Big Six have even hinted at price rises this winter.

“The government has to understand that affordability is a huge concern to consumers and has to be given equal footing with security of supply and decarbonisation. Bills are already just £248 short of the £1,500 ‘tipping point’ at which consumers will be turning down and switching off. While we all have a responsibility to use energy carefully and sparingly, we also have a right to enjoy a safe and warm home,” added Robinson.

“At the very least, consumers have the right to know what the impact of energy policy could be on their bills. This will give them time to adapt accordingly by ensuring that they are paying the lowest possible price for their energy and are using energy efficiency measures to protect themselves against higher prices.”

“The Government has to get a grip on energy bills. It’s not good enough for out-of-touch Ministers to tell people to shop around,” Labour's Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint told the Independent.

“The Government should put all over-75s on the cheapest tariff and overhaul the energy market to deliver fair prices for all.”