Energy price cap rise could leave more than five million households in the cold

HUGE hikes in energy bills will leave more than five million households in the cold, campaigners warned yesterday.

With average annual bills threatening to top £2,000 next year, charity National Energy Action said up to 1.5million more homes could be dragged into fuel poverty.

That is on top of the four million already struggling.

Citizens Advice boss Dame Clare Moriarty said: “Really this is about whether people can afford to keep their homes warm — about whether people are facing those choices between heating and eating.

“It is important that the Government thinks now about what may need to be put in place come next spring when there are going to be even more people struggling.”

A cap on the most widely used energy tariffs was introduced in 2019 aimed at ending “rip-off” pricing.

It has already increased by £139 to £1,277 a year but is expected to rise again after wholesale gas prices spiralled.

Experts predict the hike will be between £400 and £600, but watchdog Ofgem refused to rule out it being even higher.

Proposals for Government intervention have included loans, help from windfall taxes and the creation of a “bad bank” to support energy suppliers.

City analysts said that Europe was facing a cold snap starting next week which could push up prices again.

The increases are due to a combination of high demand, less gas from Russia than usual, low stocks and a dip in renewable output.

Tory MP backbencher Steve Baker branded the crisis a “state failure”.

He suggested the Government should have given the green light to new gas field drilling in the North Sea, canned just days ago.

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