Social Justice

Energy crisis will leave low-income families spending £1 in every £5 on fuel bills, report finds

A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation lays bare the extent of the energy crisis, with charities urging the chancellor to raise benefits to meet inflation.

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Lightning Reach helps people find and apply for financial assistance. Image: Pexels

The devastating impact of the energy crisis has been laid bare in a new report claiming low-income families will be forced to spend £1 of every £5 on fuel bills.

Families with already stretched budgets are expected to face an extra £850 in annual energy bills as UK gas prices continue to skyrocket. New research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) reiterates fears that people in poverty will continue to struggle to keep their families warm in the coming months.

The JRF has called for an increase in benefits that meet the catastrophic rise in inflation so that some of the strain for low-income households can be lifted.

JRF research has also found single adults on low incomes could be spending as much as half of their incomes on energy bills.

Concerns over energy costs have grown after a significant rise in wholesale gas prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This comes as inflation is estimated to rise by 8.1 per cent in April with benefit allowances failing to keep up – they are currently set to rise 3.1 per cent. 

Just six months after £20 cuts to Universal Credit, the JRF is calling for the government to provide essential relief for households struggling to cope with ongoing catapulting gas prices. The charity points out that, although increased energy costs will effect the majority of the population, families with the lowest incomes will face the harshest consequences.

Katie Schmuecker, deputy director of policy at JRF said: “It defies logic to expect people to be able to cope with a steep increase in the cost of essentials when their incomes are not keeping up with inflation.”

Schmuecker criticised the chancellor’s current support plans for not going far enough. She said: “In a country as rich as ours in 2022, this is just not right.”

Up to four-hundred-thousand people in Britain could be pulled into poverty as a result of real-term cuts to benefits, according to the JRF. In addition to climbing energy prices, low-income families are likely to face £26 per month in additional food costs and Child Poverty Action Group’s forecast of £570 less in Universal Credit payments for families. 

The JRF’s campaign has been backed by various anti-poverty charities including The Trussell Trust, Save the Children UK and Child Poverty Action Group. 

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