Government decision to reduce energy price support is disappointing and concerning
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that universal support to help all billpayers with their energy costs will be reduced.
Our Chief Executive, Carole Easton, is warning that the decision could have serious repercussions for many older people.
The Chancellor has announced that universal support from the energy price guarantee will no longer last two years as previously indicated. Instead all homes will be eligible until April and then the programme will be reviewed to save money with targeted support for a restricted number of homes will be available after that.
Ageing Better is already extremely concerned how some older people will struggle to pay their energy costs this winter, even with the energy price guarantee, and we want to make sure that support for these most vulnerable households is maintained beyond April.
We're also extremely concerned about the uncertainty and anxiety today’s announcement will have for many older people worried about how they can pay for sky high energy costs.
Our Chief Executive, Carole Easton, says the shortening of the financial support makes an even stronger case for the urgent launch of a more permanent solution to the energy crisis in the form of a national retrofit programme.
Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“We are disappointed to hear that the cost-of-living support previously promised by the government looks set to be scaled back. We already have significant concerns that some older people living in the least energy efficient homes will not be able to meet rising costs even with the aid of the energy price guarantee. It is vital that those in greatest financial need continue to receive government support for as long as energy prices remain at levels beyond their means.
“The previous two-year promise provided a level of security for people in uncertain times. Changing the duration of the energy price guarantee to a much more short-term fix is likely to cause significant anxiety and uncertainty in many homes. It is vital that the government gives plenty of advance notice with clear messaging as to who will be eligible for targeted support in April. And we would like the government to be prepared to step-in and offer more universal support again for the winter 2023 if the extremely challenging circumstances we find this winter return in 12 months' time.
“We know that households with older people are already cutting back the more than any other age group on energy with many frightened to use appliances for fear of the costs involved. Even when winter has passed, many older people will still have significantly higher energy demands than the average, whether that be from the use of television and radio for social contact, increased time spent in their own home or the use of medical equipment at home. It is important that the government ensures that many of these older people are included in those that will be eligible for targeted support beyond April. Just basing a targeted scheme on income may exclude many older people who will remain urgently in need of support next year because of specific high energy needs. This could have significant repercussions for their health and wellbeing.
“If the financial support is to be reduced considerably sooner than first indicated for the majority of homes, then it is vital that the government moves with even greater urgency to provide the long-term and permanent solutions that this energy crisis requires. We are calling for the rollout of a national retrofit programme to make homes warmer, safer and more energy efficient as part of a broader move to improve people’s homes. This should be supported by a network of ‘Good Home Agencies’ across the country to provide advice, access to finance and practical support.”