Energy companies were under pressure to cut their prices last night as it emerged that almost five million pensioners will turn down their heating during the cold spell because they cannot afford the bills.
Nearly half of over-65s will risk their health by rationing energy use in the coming days when temperatures plummet, a study has found.
The Met Office has forecast snow across northern England and Scotland tonight as a blast of Arctic air brings freezing conditions to the rest of the country.
The study comes amid growing frustration within the government over the failure of the big six energy companies to reduce prices despite two years of falling wholesale costs.
In May, Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, wrote to the chief executives of each company asking them to cut prices to reflect falling wholesale costs. She pointed to greater regulatory certainty after Ed Miliband’s general election defeat which meant that his threat of a price freeze was lifted.
Since then, wholesale prices have fallen by a further fifth. Only one company, British Gas, has cut bills — by 5 per cent and only on gas.