Electric tower in winter

Forty-five million Britons will face fuel poverty come winter, study says

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Two-thirds of all UK households will be plunged into financial precariousness by January due to soaring inflation, according to a University of York study.

The research suggested that around 18 million families will face fuel poverty, as a consequence of rising energy costs and an inflation rate that has reached a 40-year record high.

According to the study, the region hardest hit will be Northern Ireland, where 76.3 per cent of families are battling to make ends meet, followed by Scotland at 72.8 per cent, then the West Midlands (70.9 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (70.6 per cent).

When looking at the demographics of the affected population, the research published by the Guardian newspaper further stated that 86.4 per cent of pensioner couples will fall into fuel poverty. Single-parent households with two or more children are expected to bear the brunt at 90.4 per cent.

The dire energy crisis the United Kingdom faces has led Ofgem director Christine Farnish to resign from her position, citing concerns the regulator is failing to effectively protect struggling households by being unable to strike “the right balance between the interests of consumers and the interests of suppliers”, according to the Times.

It is understood that Farnish’s resignation is linked to Ofgem’s decision to change the methodology of the price cap to allow suppliers to recover some of the high energy “backwardation” costs sooner rather than later.

The energy regulator has faced criticism in recent months for not doing enough to protect families during the global energy crisis.

Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, said Farnish’s resignation shows the government is “asleep at the wheel”, and called for an energy price freeze to address the “national emergency” of inflation.

“These shocking figures show the full scale of the national emergency that could unfold unless the Conservative government acts to freeze energy bills," he tweeted. “We simply cannot allow the British people to suffer in this way. We need an energy price freeze.”

The statement echoed the Labour Party's Monday proposal to keep the energy price cap at its current level of £1,971 for six months from October by increasing taxes on oil and gas firms that have made sizeable profits in recent months. 

Labour estimates that its plan would bring inflation down by 4 per cent – which would lower the likelihood of future interest rate rises.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the UK could face targeted electricity blackouts over the winter under the government's “reasonable worst-case scenario", which could see some industries and even households could have their electricity supplies temporarily suspended for several days.

The UK has already delayed the closure of coal plants in order to bolster energy supplies, although ministers were warned in May that millions of UK households could still face blackouts despite the measures.

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