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Fuel Bank Foundation Responds to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

November 18, 2022

Fuel Bank Foundation Responds to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement Featured Image

Matthew Cole, head of Fuel Bank Foundation, said:

“Given the scale of the challenge faced by the Government to try and rebalance the books, whilst also supporting the poorest and most vulnerable in society through the cost-of-living crisis, the pressure was on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to deliver for the country.

“More targeted financial support for low-income households is something we have advocated for a while as these are the people who have been most severely impacted by the rising cost-of-living. We therefore welcome the measures announced by the Chancellor to continue providing support to those on Universal Credit, pensioners and those on disability benefits. People who live off the gas grid and rely on unregulated fuels, such as heating oil, will see their payments increase from £100 to £200 – another welcome measure given the current price of heating oil i.e. £1,000 for 1,000 litres.

“We would, however, like to have seen the financial support package extended to also include low-income households that are not on means tested benefits. With the Energy Price Guarantee threshold increasing from £2,500 to £3,000 from April next year, coupled with the removal of the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme, millions more could be exposed to unaffordable energy bills. Without support from the Government they could find themselves joining millions of others who are in fuel crisis, unable to pay to heat and power their homes.

Our Fuel Banks are now seeing families who are experiencing fuel poverty for the first time but fall outside of Universal Credit. Those who have been “just about managing” are now struggling to make ends meet.

“While the £6bn investment to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock is welcome and desperately needed, by 2025 it will be too late for many people. Better insulated, warm homes are needed now. This should form our national priority to both better protect vulnerable households, whilst also addressing some of the energy security issues we face.

“We have also long argued that support should be proportionate to the reasonable costs a family incurs to keep warm. For example, families in poorly insulated homes in colder areas, larger families or households with someone with a disability would receive more support than a family with a low income but in an energy efficient home. Unfortunately, the financial support continues to be provided at a fixed level.

Families who pay significantly more than the current £2500 average will be facing a period of uncertainty, with the knock-on impacts on mental wellbeing and resilience.

“This was billed as a ‘compassionate’ budget but clearly compassion comes at a cost and only extends so far.”