Capping energy prices: Martin Lewis creates a bill calculator

“It’s not catastrophic, it’s a disaster,” Lewis told the BBC in response to Ofgem’s announcement. “I’m begging, I’m begging, I’m begging for more government help for this winter (so that) people don’t die because of this, this winter.”

“I see such terrible panic from people saying, ‘How am I going to afford to pay my bills? ‘” he continued.

With a price cap of £3,549 from October and another likely hike in January, Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said it left Britain ‘on the road to winter disaster’ unless significant assistance is provided”.

National Energy Action has calculated that an additional 4.4 million UK households will be in fuel poverty in October compared to the same period last year.

Households that must devote 10% or more of their income to energy are considered to be in a situation of energy poverty.

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British Gas recently pledged 10% of its profits to help its poorest customers pay their energy bills, but fuel poverty campaigners say the offer is just a ‘drop in the ocean’ .

The government has announced support of £400 for each household from October to help with soaring costs, plus an additional £324 for low-income households.

Six million people with disabilities will also receive a cost of living payment of £150, although charities warn this will not go far enough to cover the additional costs of energy bills. For many people with disabilities who must use extra energy to run health, medical or mobility equipment, reducing is not an option.

Lewis calculated that even on top of the support already announced by the government, in the six winter months alone “a typical household will need to find an extra £880”. Energy prices are not expected to drop significantly even after that, he continued, with high rates likely to last at least until the end of 2023.

With the new full state pension set at £9,600 a year and the old at £7,400 a year, an extra £880 will be impossible to come by for some pensioners, many of whom may be forced to turn off their heating all together.

Speaking to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, Lewis pleaded with them to “close this gap” in funds otherwise “the risk to the physical and mental health of millions of people is unthinkable”.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on the government to present an emergency budget to deal with the crisis in a campaign supported by the Big Issue. He said the cap on energy prices should be frozen and energy companies should be renationalised as a last resort.

Don’t Pay UK, the campaign group calling on people to boycott their energy bills, is set to hold its first protest outside the Ofgem office in London on Friday.

Eleanor C. William