Over a Tenth of Borough Homes on Pre-payment Meters

Fears that those on lowest incomes will be hit hardest by energy price rises

The cost of energy from pre-payment meters is often higher. Picture: YouTube

The Labour Party in Hounslow has released figures which show that 11.7% of households in the borough have pre-payment electricity meters.

The April increase will see energy costs rise by 54% which will increase the average household bill by around £700 a year, meaning many people will face a choice between topping up the meter or eating. The average cost increase will be greater for those pre-paying as opposed to household on direct debit and it is often those on low incomes who use pre-payment.

Labour says that fuel poverty in Hounslow will soar this month, with 15.4% already in fuel poverty (using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency definition).

With Ofgem expected to increase the price cap again in October, since the start of the year the Labour Party has been calling for an immediate cut to VAT on energy bills and a windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas companies as well as an extension on the warm homes discount. They say this would save households between £200 to £600 per year.

They are also advocating a ‘green sprint’ for energy security to reduce dependence on supplies from Russia. Their plans would see the funding the insulation of 19 million homes, increasing offshore and onshore wind capacity and investing in solar, tidal, hydrogen and nuclear energy.

They describe the government’s offer of a £200 loan to offset energy costs as paltry and say the Chancellor’s mini-budget last week has done nothing to offset the cost-of-living crisis.

Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Lead Member for Finance on Hounslow Council said, “I hear from Hounslow residents all the time that they are deeply concerned about the cost of living crisis and they don’t know how they’re going to make ends meet.

“Rishi Sunak had a chance to make things right and he blew it. The Chancellor is as clueless when it comes to helping struggling Londoners as he is filling up a car. Only Labour has a comprehensive plan to help Londoners.

“With 11.7 per cent of households in Hounslow on pre-payment electricity meters and 15.4% already in fuel poverty I’m very worried. Meanwhile, parents are skipping meals to put food on their kids plates and people are forced to choose between heating and eating.

“In Hounslow we’re doing everything we can, from maintaining one of the most generous Council Tax Reduction schemes in London to issuing Local Crisis Payments, providing grants to help families pay for school uniforms and providing free school meals to help Hounslow families tackle the cost of living crisis. However, we also desperately need a comprehensive plan from government. Failing that, we need a new government.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said, “We are working hard to protect families which is why we have set out a £22bn package of support including a £200 energy bill discount in October to cut energy bills quickly for the majority of households.

“We benefit from having access to highly diverse sources of energy supply, but our exposure to volatile fossil fuels only further underlines the importance of our plan to generate more cheap, homegrown renewable energy. We will set out full details on our energy supply strategy soon.”

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April 1, 2022