The average U.K. energy bill is about to increase £639 from the 1st April (for pre-payment meters the average rise is likely to be £708) as the new OFCOM price cap is introduced. Without the price cap, energy costs would be even greater for world gas prices have risen by 250% to hit a seven year high due to greater demand as we come out of the Covid pandemic and there is a reduction in the supply (about 5%) that we get from Russia. It is likely there will be a further price rise in the Autumn when the price cap is reviewed again.
Never has it been more important to make our homes as energy efficient as possible with higher levels of insulation and a greater urgency to “ditch the gas” and speed up the roll out of low carbon heat pump heating. 85% of our homes are heated by gas and one third of our electricity comes from gas fired power stations but the change over is not that simple.
Heat pumps are expensive, only work effectively in well insulated homes and it will take many years to see gas heating phased out.
So what help is there?
The Government have just announced a repayable £200 discount on domestic energy bills from October (gradually clawed back from 2023 by £40 instalments over five years.) For those on the lowest incomes this could rise to £500.
There will be a Council Tax rebate of £150 for those living in homes from band A – D
What other help is there?
You will qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if both the following apply:
you were born on or before 26 September 1955 and lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 20 to 26 September 2021 – this is called the ‘qualifying week,’ and you get the State Pension or get another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit.)
There will be an extension of the Warm Home Discount Scheme worth £140 and a widening of the eligibility criteria if you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme. This money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March. This must be applied for from your energy company each year. Some energy companies are willing to transfer this to your gas bill.
Local Authority Support. Local Authorities will receive a share of £144 million to help those they regard as vulnerable or on low incomes, do not pay council tax and live in band E – H properties.
Cold Weather Payments of £25 a week are made for those on certain benefits if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.
It is regrettable that the short-termism of government have not progressed green climate policies over the past ten years as urged to do.
The Green Homes Grant scheme was withdrawn at short notice, subsidies on P.V. installations were reduced to nothing, there has been a deliberate policy of discouraging land based wind generation and little has been done to improve the insulation standards of millions of homes. The Green Deal was withdrawn after two years and the Zero Carbon homes policy was ditched in 2015.
We have become over reliant on gas and been left vulnerable.