A UK charity has said people on low incomes are already facing “impossible choices” as energy bills rise.
The biggest jump in energy prices in living memory came into effect on April 1 and it is feared prices will rise again in October.
It is estimated that the most recent increase in prices will cost the average UK household an additional £700 a year. Now it appears another rise of £625 could be on the horizon in October.
Many were already struggling to pay their energy bills. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 43% of adults in Britain were already finding it difficult to pay their energy bills before the latest surge in prices.
As fuel, national insurance and road tax also rise in cost, concerns for those on low incomes are only increasing.
‘A completely unacceptable situation’
Chris Birt, associate director for Scotland from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said that already “people are in a state of crisis”.
Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, he said: “You called them tough choices, these are becoming impossible choices.”
“These are enormous sums of money if you’re trying to get by on low incomes and we are seeing spikes in foodbank use and spikes in homelessness. This is a completely unacceptable situation that governments at all levels now need to step up to help with.”
Many in the UK have warned people that those struggling could be “living on the streets” as bills and prices continue to rise.
"The Government needs to take a long, hard look at the support available. The Chancellor needs to step up." @jrf_uk's @cdbirt speaks to @5_News about the government's failure to protect people from the sharp rise in living costs in last week's spring statement. https://t.co/Sy16h0mzUO
— Grace Hetherington (@gchetherington) March 31, 2022
Mr Birt said: “There is a cruel irony that this spike in energy prices has been paired with a real drop in temperatures.
“So if you imagine how cold people have been over the last couple of days when you were afraid of whether to put your heating on because your meter might run out. This can’t be fair in a country as wealthy as ours.”
“Things like food, like clothing, things like heating are essentials we can’t go without those and those and low-income households already spend more on those than those on a middle income.”
Mr Birt warned that many in low-income households could on average be spending up to 50% of their income on energy bills.
He added: “So before you’ve even got the lights on in your house half of all your money is gone and that does not leave an awful lot behind.”
“If social security continues to be cut as it is and if energy bills continue to go up by hundreds of pounds, people will have to use food banks, people will have to go without electricity, people will have to go without heat.
“Kids will go to bed at night not knowing where their breakfast will come from.”