Trade association Energy UK has warned that millions of people in the UK could struggle to pay their energy bills this winter without additional government support.
The organisation is calling on the government to commit to providing targeted financial assistance for households on means-tested and disability benefits.
This warning comes in response to the ongoing affordability crisis in the energy sector, which has left many customers struggling to make ends meet.
Nationwide, energy debt has surpassed £2.6 billion, emphasising the financial pressures facing a significant portion of the population.
To address this challenge, fourteen energy retail companies have collectively committed to go beyond existing regulatory obligations and provide enhanced support to residential customers experiencing energy bill debt.
This initiative, known as the Winter 2023 Voluntary Debt Commitment, was developed in collaboration with Energy UK, Ofgem and Citizens Advice.
The participating domestic retail suppliers, which include British Gas, E, Ecotricity, EDF Energy, E.ON Next, Good Energy, Octopus, Ovo, Rebel Energy, Shell Energy Retail Limited, Scottish Power, So Energy, Utilita, and Utility Warehouse, have made substantial pledges to offer additional financial support to customers in debt.
They have also committed to training frontline staff to better assist customers with debt issues, proactively identifying those struggling to pay their bills, collaborating with debt charities and consumer organisations and finding suitable solutions for customers in debt while ensuring fair treatment.
Daniel Portis, Deputy Director at Energy UK said: “We cannot solve this on our own. Even with every support option that suppliers have to offer, there is potential for many customers to struggle to pay for their energy.
“That is why we are urging the government to deliver on its promised consultation on enduring support, like a social tariff, and urgently step in with targeted support for those who will need it most this winter – suppliers stand ready to deliver this to customers at pace.”