“We understand and support both the English and Scottish Governments’ decisions to impose further national lockdowns in an attempt to suppress the spread of the virus. We are, however, concerned about the impact this will have on vulnerable households, in particular the extra strain staying at home will have on energy consumption and the ability to pay for this increased demand.
“We know from previous experience that lockdowns put added pressure on household finances. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, on average across our UK sites we have seen a 23 per cent increase in Fuel Bank need. In some harder hit areas, we have seen demand increase by more than 300 per cent. This was during spring and summer months. It’s likely to be higher in the colder, darker winter months, with people using more energy to heat and light their homes.
“However, it’s not just about being able to pay for gas and electricity for heating, cooking and lighting. Yes, these are essential, but equally important is being able to communicate and engage with the outside world and still feel part of society, whether that’s connecting with people online via the internet or just watching the news on TV. All of these require electricity to work.
“Sadly, all too often, for those in fuel poverty hard decisions have to be made in terms of prioritising energy usage. In extreme cases, this could be whether to heat or eat.
“Emergency credit can provide immediate respite, avoiding the risk of self-disconnection and we would urge anyone who is in fuel crisis to seek support, either directly from their energy supplier or via a third-party advice agency, such as Fuel Bank Foundation, a local food bank or Citizens Advice centre. “