The majority of low income households cannot afford the cost of the energy they need to live safe, warm and well, according to a new report from Christians Against Poverty (CAP) called ‘A Dark Place’.
More than half (55%) of CAP clients have rationed their energy at least occasionally in the last two years, with three in ten (29%) doing so weekly. Low income, expensive energy tariffs and a lack of practical help available means people simply give up and make do without.
The report presents the scale and pattern of self-rationing and self-disconnection by 1,008 low income households. Their rationing can be classified into three categories: doing so occasionally when money is particularly tight, regularly needing to ration at the end of each pay cycle, and doing so on a daily or weekly basis because of chronic affordability issues.
Only one in four (23%) feel confident their supplier would help them if they had trouble paying energy bills. This proportion is even lower for those who have self-disconnected or had a prepayment meter (PPM) installed because of debt.
CAP is calling for action to:
- Make it easier to get back on supply after short-term self-disconnection.
- Ensure people can afford to use the energy they need to stop severe rationing and long-term self-disconnection.
- Increase customers’ confidence and ability to ask suppliers for help.
- Overcome barriers that stop low income consumers accessing the best deals.
- Decrease reliance on PPMs to resolve debt issues and ensure ability to pay.