The vast majority of households in some vulnerable groups – including some 70% of pensioners – will be spending a tenth or more of their income on fuel from April, when support for energy costs will be reduced.
However, the number of households paying 30% or more of their income on fuel will double from April, from 1.6m now to 3.8m.
The number of households paying a fifth of their income on fuel is projected to rise from 3m to 7.5m.
Overall, two-thirds of British households will be spending 10% or more of their income on fuel within the next six months.
96% of lone parent families with two or more children and over 85% of all couples with three or more children will be in the same situation by April spending 10% of their income on fuel – seen by some as the benchmark for fuel poverty.
“People are worse off and 2023 is going to be worse than 2022,” former prime minister Gordon Brown, warned. The figures produced by York University’s social policy unit he said showed a “scale of the increase is staggering”, and that a “black hole in provision” remained.
Brown said 2023 was shaping up to be a year of far worse hardship across the UK than 2022. “Moving from October’s hardships to even more austerity in April will be very painful for the majority of families,” he writes in a forthcoming pamphlet called How To Survive This Winter.
Nearly 7 million of Britain’s poorest people are paying extra for these basic goods and services. This “poverty premium”, including areas such as the price of credit, prepayment meters and shopping in smaller amounts, could be costing such families about £480 a year, according to a study by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) thinktank. It found that a third of low-income households pay more for their electricity because they use prepayment meters or pay upon receipt of a bill, compared with 20% of all households. They are twice as likely as the average family to shop in pricier small supermarkets. About 29% of those paying at least one poverty premium say they are skipping meals to afford fuel.
Even the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said there was “something deeply unsettling about those with the least having to pay more than those with the most for life’s most basic essentials”