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Support still needed for struggling households, despite energy price cap fall, says StepChange

23 February 2024

StepChange Debt Charity says that, despite today’s announcement that the energy price cap will drop to £1,690 a year from April, support for households will still be necessary as they struggle with record levels of energy debt. The charity says that targeted write-offs are essential for those who can’t afford to repay energy debt that has risen to a record £2.9bn.

Richard Lane, Chief Client Officer at StepChange Debt Charity, said:

“While it’s positive to hear that energy bills will fall from April, it’s important to bear in mind that the price cap will still be more than 60% higher than before the cost of living crisis. We can also see the lasting impact that high energy prices have had on our clients. Over the course of last year, the average amount of energy arrears per StepChange client deepened by 27% from an already staggering £1,608 in January to £2,050 in December 2023. 

“Considering two years of sky high rents, rising mortgage rates and food inflation, the picture is still incredibly difficult for millions of households, and the prospect of repaying energy debt while keeping on top of everyday essentials is simply insurmountable for many.

“The Government should continue support for low income households, as headline indicators like the price cap and inflation falling don’t reflect the reality for many of those struggling with energy costs. The upcoming Spring Budget is a crucial opportunity to help households move out of the red and onto a more sustainable footing. We need to see the Household Support Fund extended, which provides essential crisis support, alongside funding to write off energy arrears for those who cannot afford to pay. This should be followed by the introduction of a social tariff for energy as soon as possible to stop unaffordable bills driving debt among struggling households.”

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