We’re asking the government to uprate benefits in line with inflation
When the government announced the Energy Price Guarantee in September, Citizens Advice said it would come as “a huge relief to millions of households”.
But we also pointed out that the cap on the unit price of energy might not be enough to preempt hardship for people unable to top up their gas or electric meters.
A month on, everything still points to a challenging winter for many of our clients and other local people. Low-income households and those with higher than average costs (such as people with disabilities) are particularly vulnerable.
That’s why we’re asking ministers to confirm that in April they will uprate benefits in line with inflation.
At national level Citizens Advice is seeing an unusual increase in demand for support on cost of living issues. Issues that normally peak in winter have peaked over the summer. Across the network we’re helping 2 people every minute with crisis support such as referrals to food banks and fuel vouchers. Find out more.
Locally we’ve helped over 1000 people with benefits, debt and crisis support since April this year. Meanwhile, the number of occasions when the issue was debt or housing has risen steadily.
The energy bills guarantee is providing much-needed help for people in our area. But rising costs risk swallowing up the government support*. If benefits fail to keep pace with inflation, a family with one child will see a fall in support of £87 a month. That is a cut very few families will be able to afford.
We hope the prime minister and chancellor will see the urgency of ensuring people on the lowest incomes can make ends meet in the coming winter.
* We have joined forces with Epsom Food Bank in a new local Energy Support Scheme this winter. Find out more.