As energy costs soar out of control, desperate parents struggle to keep their children warm.
Carla Hood, mother of two from Northumberland, said that the family’s £1,500 a year gas and electricity bills have already forced daughters Dakota and Ella Rose to share baths and dirty towels, and things will get worse. say it will
A hotel employee, along with her husband James, a maintenance technician, says they are facing poverty with an imminent £900 increase.
Speech on Channel 4 Dispatch tonight: Why are energy bills so high? As Carla explains: “We have already reached the point where the girls are bathing. Towels are shared when leaving the bath.
“Then I keep those towels for the next bath because I can’t afford to have the washing machine on all the time.
“My husband and I, at 7pm, as soon as the girls go to bed, turn off the lights and turn them off so that we sit at night with blankets on our laps, and that’s it.”
“If this bill goes up, I don’t want to do that when the girls are still up there.
“If you turn off the heating in a cold place at night, you have to go to bed to warm up. I don’t want to do that.
In tears, Carla adds: “They are children. They have to be warm. They have to be fed effortlessly.”
The family expects their bills to reach an astounding £2,400 per year due to the skyrocketing energy limit hike.
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Carla went on to say: “I would have to look for an extra £900 or so per year with no means to do so.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do. I don’t know how we’ll ever find that kind of money… Really, really scary.
“I don’t want girls in particular to think that they were born into families close to the poverty line because of the price of energy because they are so young.”
people in crisis’
The Hood family is not alone. Current dual fuel costs are under £2,000 per year, a 54% increase.
Investec experts warn that the price could reach £2,800 by the fall.
According to National Energy Action statistics, nearly 15% of Northeast households live in fuel poverty.
Carr Hill Community Primary School in Gateshead serves breakfast for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
School teachers are worried about parents after Ofgem raised the price cap at which the largest companies can charge gas and electricity.
We know that there are families who choose whether to heat their home or have their next meal. that’s what i’m really worried about
Paul Harris, Principal
Principal Paul Harris said about the program:
“I know there will be families who choose whether to heat their house or have their next meal.
“That’s what I’m really worried about.”
The Center for Sustainable Energy, an energy advisory charity, recently provided suicide awareness training to call center staff for desperate consumers worried about how to pay their bills.
Ian Preston, who works for the charity’s Bristol branch, says: .
“At least two or three times a week we talk to someone who is suicidal.
“Years ago, we used to talk to someone once a month. It is now routine.”
He added: “What I don’t think is fair is that we’re paying a supplier that has gone bankrupt. This should be put back into taxes, not energy costs.
“We didn’t create the problem in the first place. Is it fair for us to pay for a market failure we didn’t make?”
Gas costs this year have risen in part due to sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.
But last year, dozens of new smaller suppliers swarmed into bankruptcy, pushing gasoline prices up.
At least two or three times a week we are talking to someone who is suicidal.
Ian Preston at the Bristol Sustainable Energy Center
Energylivenews editor Sumit Bose said:
“Some people screamed and the headlines were screaming that profits are lascivious, fat cat pay.
“So the government at the time decided we had to do something about it.
“Ofgem wanted more conversions. They wanted to take the sting out of the headlines of these fat cats making huge bucks by showing consumers they have more value. So they opened the market.”
According to Ofgem, costs were initially reduced as new companies flooded and the number of suppliers dropped from six to 90.
Now, 48 of these smaller suppliers went bankrupt last year, with 29 and 2.7 million customers transferred to other suppliers.
Citizen’s Advice warned that this could add at least £94 to your annual bill.
Energy Policy Manager Alex Belsham-Harris said:
“It entails a cost, but the cost has to be covered and the way it is paid is through charging everyone else’s energy bills.
“All of this means that businesses will have to charge more when they go bankrupt.”
Many customers whose suppliers have gone bankrupt have up to £360 added to their bills, raising the total to £450.
boom and bust
Energy prices may seem like a new issue, but Dispatches’ regulator Ofgem ignored some of their suppliers’ complaints about their capabilities almost a decade ago.
Many were founded by people with little or no understanding of the energy market.
Nottingham City Council founded Robin Hood Energy, a not-for-profit energy company, in 2015. The company had great hopes to tackle fuel poverty, but it closed after just four years and suffered a loss of £34 million.
Conservative MP William Scott said:
“They didn’t realize they were actually selling to the least profitable part of the market, a prepaid meter.
“It was doomed to lose money to them. It wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t a scam, it was just naive.”
According to Citizens’ Advice, the agency sent a letter to Ofgem as early as 2013 to warn of supplier issues and sent 13 more by 2018.
They claimed to have ignored 10 letters Ofgem sent to Avro Energy in 2018.
The Vendor was founded in 2014 by then 20-year-old Jake Brown and his father Phillip, which they closed last year.
“So we went from 200,000 customers to 600,000 customers and we still raised concerns.
“It was very disconcerting. When Avro went bankrupt we all paid over £600 million.
“We think Ofgem has been too reticent to force companies to follow the rules.”
Jake and Phillip Brown said Avro has a strong record of customer service and they disagree that Avro’s collapse will cost consumers a fortune.
Ofgem obtained new powers to investigate the supplier’s finances in January 2021.
According to the Freedom of Information request, Ofgem did not order any suppliers to conduct independent audits last year.
Forensic accountant Gavin Cunningham looked at the accounts of 27 suppliers that went bankrupt, and found that while most were not making a single penny, many were struggling before wholesale gas prices rose last year.
He says: In fact, two-thirds of them were unprofitable.
“I think they are trying to get customers and market share.
“In some cases, we sell at a price lower than our purchase price, but we cannot cover our own operating costs.”
Ofgem told Dispatches:
“In 2019 we recognized the need for more overhaul of our energy suppliers and introduced new entry requirements.
“But we know there are lessons to be learned, and in retrospect, a stronger fiscal monitoring and resilience regime could have gone further and faster.”
Why are energy bills high? ‘Dispatch’ airs on Channel 4 at 8 pm tonight.