One in four households will be driven into fuel poverty if the Government pursues controversial green energy targets, ministers have been warned. ‘Radical policy change’ may be necessary to protect millions of struggling families from biggest household price shock since the 1970s, according to City analysts.
The warning comes as middle-income homes are already suffering an ‘unprecedented collapse’ in living standards as inflation and poor wages wipe thousands off incomes.
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Energy industry analyst Martin Brough, of Deutsche Bank, warned that a quarter of households could be driven into fuel poverty by 2015.
He said: ‘Our analysis suggests rising energy bills and sluggish income growth will make household energy less affordable than at any time since the oil shocks of the 1970s.’
Energy tariffs have leapt by around 20 per cent in the past year, pushing up the annual average bill to £1,293. Deutsche Bank predicts bills will rise by another 25 per cent – around £325 – by 2015, taking the figure to £1,618.
The shift to green energy is being driven by the EU and commitments made by both the last Labour government and the Coalition, based on the support of Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne.
But Dr Robert Gross, director of the Centre for Energy Policy and Technology at Imperial College, insists families will be better off by switching from fossil fuels.
‘Cutting support for renewables would slow down the UK’s progress in reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels,’ he said.
Meanwhile, on the eve of the release of the worst unemployment figures for 17 years, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found families are about to endure their biggest income drop since the 1970s.
A typical couple with two children is likely to be £2,080 worse off in 2013 terms than they were last year as their real income falls from £30,056 to £27,976, it said.