Energy costs are on the rise…
From April we will all see a hike in our energy bills, but why is it happening and how will it affect the older members of our community?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, and the more recent political influences of the war outbreak between Russia and Ukraine, not only have wholesale prices gone through the roof, but Ofgem has announced that the energy price cap will increase as of April; with high energy prices forecast to persist throughout 2022 and into to 2023.
As with other services, a ‘cap’ works by implementing a maximum threshold on exactly how much energy suppliers can their charge customers on standard variable tariffs – the rate at which electricity and gas is charged per unit – which will vary depending on the usage for each individual household.
The increase comes into effect this Friday – on April Fool’s Day – the irony almost laughable when we consider that standard variable tariffs are expected to increase by an average of £693 for the year. More so, for those on prepayment meters.
We have all faced great financial uncertainty over the last two years. Many are still recovering from losses, so exactly what help is available in the light of this latest, disheartening news?
In-line with existing schemes such as the Cold Weather Payment and the Winter Fuel Payment, new programmes have been announced.
From April, those living in residential properties that fall under Council Tax bands A to D, a rebate of £150 is due to be delivered. The payment should be automatic and will cover approximately 80% of England households.
For those not eligible for the rebate, a discretionary fund of £144 million has been proposed to support those living in low-income households and as such don’t pay Council Tax and those residing in band E properties and above.
All electricity customers will receive £200 off their energy bill from October, which will then be paid back via instalments over a period of five years from 2023.
The proposed improvements to the Warm Home Discount scheme will come into effect later this year to better support our older generation.
But are these changes enough? It’s more than fair to say that the huge increase in energy prices will be impossible to meet. That, in addition to the ever-increasing cost of living, will make this especially hard for our older, more vulnerable community, who spend more time at home and have higher heating needs.
When you consider that even with a Council Tax rebate of £150 and a £200 energy rebate, it only covers £350 against an average increase of £693! Somewhat of a shortfall.
It’s of utmost importance that older people can afford to stay warm and healthy from the comfort of their own homes. Age UK are continuing their efforts in striving for better support and here at Pure Heart Homecare we are always on hand to offer help and advice, financial or otherwise, so please do get in touch.