A new study has laid bare the impact of the cost of living crisis in the UK this winter as politician’s dither over how to respond to soaring energy prices.
A study by the University of York estimates 45 million Brits will be forced into fuel poverty and struggle to pay energy bills this winter.
Two-thirds of all UK households – or 18 million families – will be plunged into financial precariousness by January due to soaring inflation – which is already at 40-year record high.
According to the study, the region hardest hit will be Northern Ireland with 76.3% of families battling to make ends meet, followed by Scotland at 72.8%, then the West Midlands (70.9%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (70.6%).
The research published by The Guardian newspaper further stated that 86.4% of pensioner couples will fall into fuel poverty. Single parent households with two more more children will bare the brunt at 90.4%.
The shadow secretary of state for climate change and net zero, Ed Miliband, responded to the report by calling for an energy price freeze to address the “national emergency” of inflation.
The Labour MP wrote on Twitter: “These shocking figures show the full scale of the national emergency that could unfold unless the Conservative government acts to freeze energy bills.
“We simply cannot allow the British people to suffer in this way.
“We need an energy price freeze.”
It echoed Labour leader Keir Starmer’s proposal announced on Monday to freeze the energy price cap at its current level of £1,971 for six months from October, saving the average household £1,000.
The cost-of-living crisis was catapulted further up the agenda in the Conservative leadership election between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as new figures showed a worse-than-expected hit in July with the Consumer Prices Index inflation (CPI) reaching 10.1%.
Pressure was further applied to the Tory candidates and government on Wednesday with the resignation of Ofgem director Christine Farnish, who cited concerns the energy regulator was failing to effectively protect struggling households.
Farnish told The Times the watchdog had not “struck the right balance between the interests of consumers and the interests of suppliers”.
The energy regulator has faced criticism in recent months for not doing enough to protect families during the global energy crisis.
It is understood Farnish’s resignation is linked to Ofgem’s decision to change the methodology of the price cap to allow suppliers to recover some of the high energy “backwardation” costs sooner rather than later.
The next prime minister will not be able to implement their policies until the Tory leadership election ends on September 5.
Truss has said she would apply a temporary moratorium on environmental and social levies added to consumers’ electricity bills. Sunak has said he is in no doubt more support will be needed to help households through the winter, and he would act as soon as it is confirmed precisely how much bills would be increasing by.