One in four expect to never turn their heating on this winter due to rising energy bills

  • New polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrats reveals the public are planning to make heartbreaking decisions to cope with spiralling energy prices this winter
  • Parents with children under 18 set to be hardest hit by energy rises according to new poll
  • Lib Dems warn of “the worst cost of living crisis in a century” if Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak do not scrap the energy price cap rise

New polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed almost one in four (23%) of UK adults plan to never turn their heating on this winter. This rises to over one in four (27%) amongst parents with children under the age of 18.

The new polling also reveals those who are parents of children aged under 18 are increasingly likely to put more on their credit card due to rising energy bills (33% compared to national average 23%)

The newly released polling also finds seven in ten (69%) will turn on their heating on less this winter and one in ten (11%) will even take out a loan in response to rising energy prices. Those with children under 18 are again more likely to take out a loan due to rising energy bills (17%).

The findings are revealed following OfGem announcing the energy price cap will result in the typical household energy bill reaching £3,549 a year from 1st October.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to scrap the energy price cap rise in October, as well as provide further targeted support at the lowest paid amid a winter cost of living crisis. The party’s plan to keep energy bills at their current price would be part funded by a further Windfall Tax on oil and gas companies. In the first six months of this year alone, BP and Shell made a staggering £29 billion in profits, whilst many households plan to go cold during winter.

Liberal Democrat Cabinet Office spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:

Families and pensioners across the country are making heartbreaking decisions because the Government has failed to save them. It is a national scandal that parents are having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their children. It shouldn’t be like this.

Britain is on the brink of the worst cost of living crisis in a century and yet still Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will not scrap the energy price rise. It is clear energy prices must not be allowed to rise in October.

Their refusal to cancel the energy price cap rise is leaving millions facing financial devastation. An economic catastrophe is now just a month away because we have a Zombie Government in Westminster, and two leadership contenders living on another planet.

It is time to tax the record multi-billion pound profits of oil and gas companies and use the money to save British families and pensioners.

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  • Fingers crossed it will be (another) mild winter… But might be wise to assume, given climate change, that it will be bad and plan accordingly…

  • Peter Martin 29th Aug '22 - 4:21pm

    “It is time to tax the record multi-billion pound profits of oil and gas companies and use the money to save British families and pensioners.”

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t apply windfall taxes to energy companies. We should. However, we should also recognise that it isn’t going to provide any more energy in time for this winter. The price rise is a signal that someone has to go without. Presumably in a liberal free market it will be at least some of the one in four mentioned in the OP that are planning to keep their heating off this winter.

    It’s rather like eleven families needing to rent eleven houses but there’s only ten. If there is enough time we can build another house but there’s no point just giving the families more money. That will simply end up in the hands of the landlords and we’ll still end up with one homeless family.

    The only fair way to ration the energy we have, at least for this one winter, so we all are slightly colder than we might like to be but no-one is so cold that it will seriously and adversely affect their health.

  • Steve Trevethan 29th Aug '22 - 7:20pm

    If H. M. G. could be bothered to function, one significant and reasonably prompt way to reduce energy costs would be to change the methodology of their calculation.
    Currently they are calculated to extract the maximum price for the benefit of the energy companies and not to obtain an equitable and more affordable price for customers, aka British Citizens, as the attached makes clear.

  • @Steve Trevethan – Interesting article, just one omission – why the market was set up like that. If memory serves me correctly part of rationale was to encourage the development of gas as a fuel to replace coal, as it was so much cheaper. Obviously, nuclear was a non-starter as that wouldn’t go down well with the electorate.

  • Peter Martin 30th Aug '22 - 7:57am

    @ Steve,

    I don’t know enough on the technicalities of the pricing of the electricity generating market to know, but there are many plausible comments on Richard Murphy’s blog to suggest that he hasn’t got it right. He then falls back onto the argument that the market isn’t working because we can’t afford the prices. I think most of us can agree on that but no doubt many economists won’t. They will say that most of us, for example, can’t afford to buy a Rolls Royce but there is still a market for luxury cars.

    Any tweaks to the market aren’t going to work quickly enough to solve the problem this winter. In any case, they might affect the electricity price but they won’t affect the price of gas which many of us depend upon for our heating and cooking.

    As Richard Murphy rightly says, and as the examples given in the OP show, we are facing a National Emergency. The precedents are that we don’t rely on markets to get us through them. We need to take direct action and do what it takes to ensure that as few as possible suffer from a lack of energy supply this winter.

  • Helen Dudden 30th Aug '22 - 9:24am

    History teaches us that cold conditions kill as with a poor diet.
    There is a general ignore it, and it goes away attitude with this government.

  • Time is running out for action, and while there’s not enough time to implement all of the changes required before this winter, there’s still time for some preparatory work – assuming political will and a bit of investment.

    As a nation we’re still badly insulated. There probably isn’t capacity to insulate many lofts before Winter, no matter how much funding is allocated to it, but there must be people who couldn’t previously be bothered with the hassle realising it is worth the hassle.

    Public spaces, like libraries, have always been used by some members of the public as a place to spend time out of the cold. There will be more doing it this year and councils should be given grants to help them plan for this. Helen makes the connection with poor diet. Resources directed to helping people eat well should be part of the plan.

    I’d suggest quickly installing a whole load of solar panels – both the electrical and hot water sorts. I expect demand is already outstripping supply. My friend’s work installed a whole load of solar panels at the beginning of summer, but they are still waiting for the part that connects them to the system with still no date for when that will happen. But we should still do what we can. Even if they aren’t up and running until the second half of winter, extra renewables that alleviate demand on the network will help directly or indirectly with everyone’s bills.

  • Steve Trevethan 30th Aug '22 - 5:38pm

    « There are essentially two types of society: mixed economies with public checks and balances, and oligarchies that dismantle and privatise the state, taking over its monetary and credit system, the land and basic infrastructures, such as the supply of fuels, in order to enrich themselves but choking the economy and harming the citizenry. »
    (From Michael Hudson)

  • Why, oh why are LibDems meekly going along with the government line that this is a “cost of living crisis” for consumers. It is, of course, but much, much more.

    The economy simply doesn’t work at current energy prices and, as they are on a strongly rising trend, this can only get worse. So, it’s not just the forecast 70% of pubs that may close but, other than the wealthy, most consumers will have to stop spending on anything other than essentials with obvious implications for consumer-facing businesses and, before long, their suppliers etc.

    Then there’s industry. Remember fertiliser maker CF Industries that got a big subsidy from government last autumn to continue production? They’ve recently announced they are closing again. Will government have to subsidise them again to keep the by-product CO2 production needed by the food industry going?

    As the CF Industries example shows, supply chains are fragile things and breaks in them will rapidly metastasise through the economy. Between revenue losses on the one hand and surging welfare costs on the other, government will be in an increasingly deep hole.

    This can be fixed – but only at a high political price. So, does the LibDem leadership have the imagination to turn a crisis into an opportunity – to call the government to account and make it pay that price?

  • The primary reason for soaring energy prices is, of course, the war in Ukraine and the reduction in gas flowing from Russia.

    But… Russia is NOT refusing to supply gas. It is we, the UK & EU, that have sanctioned Russian gas, apparently in the misguided belief that Russia, described by Bush as a “gas station with a country attached”, would collapse within a few weeks if deprived of its main export market. Ukraine also cut flow through one of the main pipelines crossing their territory, presumably in the same belief.

    What actually happened is that Russia experienced a fairly short recession and fall in the rouble, but the economy is recovering fast, inflation is falling, the rouble is stronger than ever, and the shops are full.

    Moreover, Russia is far from being internationally isolated. ALL of Latin America, ALL of Africa and ALMOST ALL of Asia, totalling ~85% of the World’s people, are sitting on their hands or quietly backing Russia.

    Clearly, there’s been an epic misreading of the Russian economy and of geopolitics.

    The Tories, having set off this way, will find it politically almost impossible to change course even if they wanted to.

    It will be difficult for Lib Dems too, but as a smaller party they should, by rights, be nimbler (if only!), building on the legacy of Charles Kennedy who saw through the deceptions used to start the Iraq war – WMDs, the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ etc. – which worked to the party’s immense advantage.

  • Jason Connor 30th Aug '22 - 8:47pm

    I heard an installer being interviewed on radio about solar panels. They are very expensive to install and it can take years to recoup the cost in savings on energy. Solar panels are beyond the reach of many people on lower incomes as well as being unsightly. If they are feasible in terms of producing energy in bulk than other renewables like wind and tide power should be used more but I don’t know much about these sources.
    This government were quite generous in giving food boxes to people on low incomes during the pandemic. Some people in my council block used them and they were given out free unlike the food supplies which the local labour council charged for. In fact the civil service distributed them very efficiently so that could easily be done again in extreme circumstances.
    I think it’s so important to stick up for and support an independent country like Ukraine against Russian aggression in concert with the EU and USA etc. Not to do so would simply imply condoning imperialist expansion and in this day and age that is not what’s needed. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • I installed solar panels eight years ago (when they were much more expensive than they are now). The deal was that I was deemed to use half the electricity they generated, and I sold the other half to the grid at an agreed Feed-in Tariff (FIT).

    Until this year the FIT payments I received covered the rest of my electricity bill with a bit to spare. I am still generating the same amount of electricity and selling it to the grid, BUT:
    I am now having to pay immensely more for the power supplied by my electricity company – but the FIT is exactly the same as it was eight years ago.
    So when the electricity company sells on the power my panels have generated (which it is not costing them any more to buy) they are making a huge profit off MY investment.

    Why is nobody demanding that the electricity companies pay us fairly for what we produce? The cynic in me says that because we are very small suppliers we can be exploited with impunity. I’m still waiting to hear someone even ask a question in parliament about this, let alone challenge Ofwat on the subject.

  • I’m all for keeping energy costs capped, but it needs to be made clear where the money will come from. What would be the cost of subsidising energy providers if the cap were set at, say £2000 p.a ? How much of that could be found through a windfall tax ? How much extra debt would we have to take on as a nation ? What would that mean at a time when interest rates are rising ? What would the figures look like if we extended the cap beyond households to businesses ? Emoting about the fate of the poor is fair enough, you don’t need a lot of imagination to understand that some people will simply go under, but we have to get the spreadsheets out as well. Perhaps I’m wrong, and Lib Dem policy is fully costed, in which case can we see the numbers ?

  • @Jason, I disagree that solar panels are unsightly. IMO they enhance most houses or office blocks, and while Margaret is right that costs of installation have come down, and with today’s electricity prices the return on investment is shorter than ever before, the costs of installing solar panels in new homes while they are being built is considerably lower than retrofitting them onto existing homes.

    Chris, my understanding was that a proper windfall tax would cover the costs of capping prices, but it’s fair to ask for how long and at what point does a windfall tax become just tax. But it’s more than a few households struggling. Check your local paper – you’ll see stories of small businesses closing left, right and centre. The personal costs are big, but the whole economy is taking a massive hit.

  • Jason Connor 31st Aug '22 - 3:10pm

    Well I live in an area where there are lots of old houses mixed in with social housing. Solar panels would look hideous and luckily it’s a solar panel free zone. I would not want to move into a house with them but I am only a council tenant and could not afford them in any case. They are still beyond the reach of many people on lower incomes. Fortunately none of the nearby blocks or estates have them.

  • Helen Dudden 1st Sep '22 - 12:37pm

    Jason Connor, Solar Panels are being built into new Social Housing in the Bath area. With more interest and investment things will change.

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