THE government should immediately update its package of support to help households with soaring energy bills before the cost-of-living crisis grips even harder, according to a new report by MPs.
October will see an energy price cap increase and as inflation has reached a 40-year high of 9.4 per cent while wage increases fail to keep up.
The report by the business, energy and industrial strategy committee warns that the government’s current support package is out of date and that the Energy Bills Support Scheme does not sufficiently target low-income households and those most vulnerable.
The scheme, which provides a £400 discount on energy bills in October for every household, a £650 means-tested one-off payment to eight million low-income households, £150 for those on disability benefits and £300 for pensioners, was designed when the forecast for the October price cap was £2,800.
Industry experts now estimate that the price cap could increase to £3,244 with further rises in January.
And the 400 discount will be going to some bill-payers who do not need it and repeatedly to people who own multiple homes, the committee warns as it urges the government to update the scheme to better target the most in need.
The report calls on the government to stop announcing short-term policies and moving existing budgets around and instead fully fund a nationwide programme to insulate people’s homes.
It also hits out at energy regulator Ofgem’s “incompetence” by failing to use its powers to supervise companies and act against supplies for offering unsustainable prices.
End Fuel Poverty Coalition co-ordinator Simon Francis said that MPs are right in their warnings and that the crisis facing millions of homes is “ongoing and severe.”
He told the Star: “The energy bills crisis this winter is a nightmare scenario, but the government is sleepwalking into it.
“Tory leadership hopefuls and ministers need to wake up and announce urgent financial support to offset the predicted price rises this winter and further help vulnerable homes stay warm this winter.”
Mr Francis warned that financial support “will only be a stop-gap solution,” saying: “We also need to see rapid rollout of support to make homes and community buildings more energy efficient, a full review of the consumer energy market and action to bring cheap renewable energy on stream as fast as possible.”
An Insulate Britain spokesperson said: “In the midst of a climate crisis and cost of living crisis which are clearer than ever part of the same problem, Insulate Britain have a no brainer plan which would reduce emissions, create hundreds of thousands of meaningful jobs and stop tens of thousands of our elderly from dying prematurely in cold homes.
“The poorest and most vulnerable in our society are being ripped off and sold out because our government is more interested in billionaires and shareholders than it is in keeping them safe, warm and free from a life of poverty. We refuse to accept it and are in civil resistance to say no more.”