The number of households suffering from “fuel stress” – those spending at least 10% of their family budgets on energy bills – is set to treble to 6.3m overnight when the new energy price cap comes in on 1 April.
Fuel stress will no longer be confined to the poorest households, according to a study by the Resolution Foundation. Low- and middle-income families will also find it hard to cope as they spend a far greater share of their family budget on these essentials than higher earners.
9% of English households are currently experiencing fuel stress, an indicator of finding energy bills unaffordable and also the definition of fuel poverty in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. That figure is expected to leap to 27% when the energy price cap rises to about £2,000 a year in April, an increase of more than 50%.
Levels of fuel stress are expected to be highest in the north-east and the West Midlands (33% and 32% respectively), among pensioner households (38%), among those living in local authority housing (35%) and those in poorly insulated homes (69% of families in homes with an energy performance certificate F-rating).
Jonny Marshall, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Fuel stress levels are particularly high among pensioner households and those in poorly insulated homes – a stark reminder of the need to modernise Britain’s leaky housing stock and curb national dependency on gas for power and heating.”