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Energy Poverty: Red Cross To Distribute Winter Food Aid For First Time Since WWII

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Guy Chazan, Financial Times

Families struggling to cope with rising energy bills face more misery after one of the UK’s leading utilities warned that environmental taxes would trigger even higher prices. The scale of the problem was underlined when the Red Cross announced that it will collect and distribute food aid in Britain this winter for the first time since the second world war.

 

The spectre of a new round of increases to energy bills came as Dalton Philips, chief executive of Wm Morrison, the supermarket group, expressed concern about the fallout from rising fuel bills on those already on the breadline.

“The problem of high energy bills is a social problem because it is hitting the poor the hardest,” Mr Philips told the Financial Times. “It’s like a tax, taking money out of people’s pockets without them being able to do much about it.”

SSE, the power supplier which provoked outcry last week with an 8.2 per cent rise in its gas and electricity prices, has warned consumers that average household bills will be £26 a year higher by 2015 as a result of the carbon price floor, an environmental tax.

Rising bills, set against a backdrop of stagnating wages, are putting intense pressure on political parties in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Labour has promised a 20-month price freeze on energy bills if it wins the next election. David Cameron has put the coalition’s green energy subsidies under review as Downing Street scrambles to respond.

The prime minister’s position has put him on a collision course with the Liberal Democrats who are determined to defend “green taxes”. Ed Davey, the energy secretary, admitted on Sunday that more price rises were on the horizon but said cutting green taxes was not the solution to soaring energy bills.

“Most of [these green taxes] are actually social policies to help the fuel-poor manage their bills. I don’t think we want to get rid of those,’’ he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr programme

Pensioner groups are warning that the elderly will be hit hardest hit by price rises, with many forced to decide whether to “heat or eat” this winter.

The scale of the problem was underlined when the Red Cross announced that it will collect and distribute food aid in Britain this winter for the first time since the second world war.

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