The London boroughs where people are forced to choose between heating and eating as energy prices set to rise
Households across London are facing a bleak choice between heating and eating even before the energy price cap rises on 1 April. April’s increase, which will see energy costs surge by 54 per cent, will bring the energy price cap to just under £2,000 – increasing the average household bill by around £700 per year.
Now analysis by the Labor party has revealed that more than 15 per cent of households in London are already in fuel poverty. The figure jumps to more than 20 per cent in boroughs like Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Waltham Forest, with fuel poverty there expected to soar further next week.
While thousands of households across London will feel the impact keenly, those on low incomes – often reliant on pre-payment meters – will be hardest hit facing a steeper average increase than those paying their energy bills via direct debit, a spokesperson said. One in seven London households have pre-payment electricity meters, and in some London boroughs it jumps to nearly a quarter.
READ MORE: Food bank use ‘still well above pre-pandemic level’
(Image: Wandsworth Food Bank)
Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Waltham Forest are among the boroughs to suffer most, in part as they have such a high proportion of residents on pre-payment meters.
With Ofgem expected to increase the price cap again in October, Labor is calling for an immediate cut to VAT on energy bills and a windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas companies as well as an extension on the warm homes discount, which together could save households between £200 to £600 per year. The Government has offered households a £200 loan to offset energy costs, which will be repayable over the course of five years.
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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “For months now, Londoners have been telling me agonizing stories about the sacrifices they’ve been forced to make including deciding whether to cook a meal or whether to heat their home.
“The story is the same up and down the country and the Government’s response? A dodgy loan that no one asked for. Labor has a comprehensive strategy to bring costs down and ensure our ongoing energy security through investment in renewables.”
Fuel poverty is defined as having an income below the poverty line, in a home with an energy efficiency rating below Band C.
The cost of living crisis has become a top issue for Londoners. Last week a 14-year-old boy reportedly fainted from hunger while waiting for food at a southwest London food bank, the food bank’s owner has said. The boy was rushed to the hospital after he passed out and hit his head.
The owner of Earlsfield Foodbank in Wandsworth, south west London took to Twitter to share the harrowing moment she saw the boy faint to the floor. She posted: “Today at the foodbank an ambulance was called, as a 14 year old fainted and hit his head. He hadn’t eaten for a while. The cupboards at home were empty. The levels of hardship and suffering we’re seeing are extreme, every week it gets worse and worse.”
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Josiah joined MyLondon as the outlet’s first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, the London Assembly, the Met police, Transport for London, and wider London politics.
He moved to South London from Brussels in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society, and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. Originally from Cornwall, he is now also a proud Londoner. Josiah has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Times Radio, LBC and other outlets to discuss current affairs and general political chaos.
If you have an untold story – whether it’s a housing nightmare, an unfair decision or a local scandal, get in touch at [email protected] or contact Josiah on Twitter.