NHS facing ‘humanitarian crisis’ if millions of Britons to go hungry to pay energy bills

Energy bill relief 'should go to the poorest' says Melanie Blake

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Leaders of the UK’s health sector have warned that a rise in the energy price cap could lead to a major humanitarian crisis and millions of Britons are forced to make tough choices. With Ofgem expected to raise the price for household bills to nearly £3,600 this October, experts have warned that a majority of UK households could be thrust into fuel poverty as a result. In a letter to ministers, the NHS Confederation warned that as bills surge, millions of families will be forced to choose between skipping meals or living in poor conditions.

Matthew Taylor is chief executive of the body, representing NHS leaders, and was quoted by the BBC and The Times as saying: “The country is facing a humanitarian crisis.

“Many people could face the awful choice between skipping meals to heat their homes and having to live in cold, damp and very unpleasant conditions.

“This in turn could lead to outbreaks of illness and sickness around the country and widen health inequalities, worsen children’s life chances and leave an indelible scar on local communities.”

Next Friday, industry regulator Ofgem is set to announce a new price which will come into effect from October.

Meanwhile, a number of groups, including Labour, Liberal Democrats, and even energy suppliers, have called on the government to freeze the bills at £1,971.

Two of the country’s largest energy suppliers, Octopus Energy and Centrica, which owns British Gas, reportedly back a plan that seeks to freeze customer bills for two years.

The plan, which is being debated in the industry, would aim to create a multibillion-pound facility that could spread the cost of an emergency funding package over a decade.

Under this scheme, commercial banks would deposit cash into a state-backed fund, which suppliers could then draw on to meet the difference, rather than raising the price cap on energy bills, which is currently at £1,971.

The cost of such a scheme would then be paid back to over the next 10 to 15 years through an additional levy.

However, the Government has made it clear that it will not take any major decisions until a new Prime Minister is in office on 5th September.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the trade body for energy companies urged the Government to provide more support to households on top of the £400 that was promised in May.

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Dhara Vyas, Energy UK’s director of advocacy said: “Time is running very short ahead of October and we know many customers are already struggling after the last price rise – so the predicted increases will simply be unaffordable for millions of households.

“Given the urgency, our industry believes the most practical way to help customers ahead of Christmas will be to increase the amount of support made through the existing bills support scheme.”

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