Consumer groups have welcomed the plan to freeze energy prices as a “huge relief” but warned that many would still struggle with “sky high” bills this winter.
Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “Today’s announcement hits the brakes before October’s terrifying price hikes become reality, and will come as a huge relief to millions of households.
“But energy bills are still sky high. A freeze may not be enough to reverse the devastating trend in people coming to us because they’ve run out of food or can’t top up their gas and electric. The Government needs to stand ready to provide more support for people on the very sharp end of this crisis.
“Crucially, we also need the details on how this will be paid for. We don’t want to see costs added to customer bills down the line.”
She added: “And Ofgem must make energy companies play their part. No-one should be chased for a debt they can’t pay or force people onto a prepayment meter this winter.”
Citizens Advice said it was helping more than two people every minute with access to crisis support, such as food banks and charitable grants.
More than 137,000 people had been referred for this type of support – a 50% increase on the same period last year, and a 167% increase on the same period in 2019.
So far this year, the charity had supported more than 50,000 people with energy debts, a 22% increase on the same period last year.
Even with this help, it's likely that some consumers will still struggle to afford higher energy bills this winter and the Government may need to provide additional support for those on low incomes
Rocio Concha, Which?
Which? described the price freeze as a “bold intervention”.
Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “This is a bold intervention that will provide huge relief for many and prevent millions of households being left in the cold.
“However, even with this help, it’s likely that some consumers will still struggle to afford higher energy bills this winter and the Government may need to provide additional support for those on low incomes.
“As part of their plans to shake up the energy market, the Government must commit to reform retail energy pricing so it works for the long-term. These reforms should include protecting those on low incomes as well as reviewing how standing charges and tariffs for prepayment customers could be made fairer.
“The Government must also go all out to turbocharge the adoption of energy efficiency measures, such as home insulation, and make sure that a temporary suspension of green levies does not delay the UK’s transition away from fossil fuels.”