These customers are not protected against energy price hikes and are experiencing more dramatic increases than regular domestic gas customers.
Heat Trust’s Director Stephen Knight said: “Many communal heating customers are experiencing price increases of 400% – likely to take their heating bills next winter from £50 a month to £250 a month.
“Communal and district heating customers aren’t protected by the Ofgem price cap and operators buy gas at commercial prices, which have seen extraordinary increases in the past year. Without government support, customers simply won’t be able to afford to pay their bills.
“Sadly, ministers have so far offered little comfort that they are prepared to offer help to these customers, many of whom are flat tenants of councils and housing associations on low incomes.”
A few days ago, during a debate held in the House of Commons about the energy price cap and its impact on residential buildings with communal heating systems, Energy Minister Greg Hands confirmed that the government will consider “all options” on price regulation.
Heat Trust has also urged the government ahead of the Queen’s Speech to fulfil its promise to regulate the heat network market and confirm Ofgem’s new powers to oversee the sector.
Stephen Knight said: “Government gave us reassurance last year that regulation of heat networks would be going ahead, and we are urging them to ensure this commitment is followed through in the Queen’s Speech.
“Regulation is absolutely vital for the 500,000 households which are currently overlooked, many of which include older people, social tenants, people with health conditions and other groups which are even more vulnerable to the harsh impacts of the cost-of-living crisis.”
Heat Trust has called for government intervention to include:
- government support for network operators and customers to ensure that their bills are capped in the same way as those of domestic gas customers.
- plans to regulate the heat network market through Ofgem.
- measures to help heat networks improve their efficiency.
A government spokesperson told ELN: “We are committed to legislating to regulate the heat network market within this Parliament.
“The vast majority of heat network customers will receive £200 off their energy bills from October as of the £9.1 billion Energy Bills Rebate and a further £150 Council Tax rebate.”