Energy Crisis: Low-income households could lose half of wages to bills

Soaring energy prices will hit poorer families the hardest according to research by poverty charity The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

Research published by the JRF has found that low-income families could see an average of 18 per cent of their income going towards energy bills as of April. In some circumstances, single-adult households could see upwards of 54 per cent of wages swallowed by energy bills as a result of the UK’s current crisis.

The JRF’s findings show that low-income households will be disproportionately affected by dramatic spikes in energy prices. Middle-income households may see just six per cent of wages being spent on energy bills in comparison.

From April, the nation’s price cap will increase, affecting families up and down the country. More than two million customers have already been affected by problems in the energy sector, with around 30 energy companies going bust in 2021.

The JRF’s research has lead to increasing concerns that low-income households may be forced to choose whether to heat their homes or feed their families.

The charity warned: “People already in poverty are likely to find a sharp increase in energy bills very difficult to cope with.” The charity has called for “an immediate emergency payment for people on the lowest incomes to help prevent hardship in the months ahead.”

Kingston Council’s official Twitter account directed local residents affected by increased prices towards the government’s ‘Warm Home Discount’ on electricity.

Up until March, the scheme provides qualifying applications with a one-off £140 discount. To meet the relevant requirements applicants must already be in receipt of pension credit or qualify as a low-income household.

MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney responded to recent developments in the energy crisis tweeting that the Liberal Democrats are calling for: “One-off windfall tax on energy giants to support struggling families.”

Poverty charity the Trussell Trust reported that roughly 2.5 million people needed the support of food banks in the UK in 2020/21. In Kingston upon Thames alone, 23 per cent of children currently live in poverty, according to Trust for London.

The JRF’s Deputy Director of Policy and Partnerships, Katie Schmuecker said: “The reality for many families is that too many children know the constant struggle of poverty. The fact that more children are in poverty and sinking deeper into poverty should shame us all.”

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