‘Three ways to cut families’ bills’

I HAVE a new arsenal in my small talk. It never fails to get people going and fills any awkward pause. A banal conversation about the weather (although, may I say the recent sunshine has been very welcome) can now be upgraded with a simple mention of the impact of the weather on our energy bills.

Without fail, as the end of the month rolls around I have exclaimed with friends and acquaintances over invoices from energy companies. “£400 in December! £400!” “For a three-bed semi-detached, £400!” I messaged my husband at work when the bill came through for January: “A whole £13 less than December!”
I have spoken about the cost of heating my home with people I work with, retired neighbours, comfortable business people and it always goes the same way.

It has become an actual topic of conversation as people still cannot grasp the enormous hike in energy costs in a mere matter of months. And yet, in April, it is due to get worse.
The Energy Price Guarantee – the discounted cost of gas and electricity to consumers – is due to leap from £2,500 per year to £3,000 for households.

At the same time, the £400 of government help ends, that £67 on a £387 bill will stop at the end of March.
The two mean costs will soar for many by up to 40%, against a backdrop of the wholesale cost of energy falling, record profits for energy giants such as Shell, and stories in the press of bailiffs being used to forcibly install pre-payment meters in homes struggling to pay bills.
I support the three demands Liberal Democrats are making to ease the burden on hard-working families:
First, we must properly tax companies such as Shell and BP. It is obscene that companies are able to publish record-breaking profits when customers face record costs.
Second, halt the installation of all prepayment meters until after April to prevent punishing those who are struggling to pay with a ‘poverty premium’.

Third, invest in improving our housing stock. Our homes are some of the worst quality in Europe when it comes to energy efficiency.
The government should commit to upgrading insulation in all existing homes by 2030, creating thousands of new green jobs and reducing our national dependence on foreign oil and gas.
A different path is possible, yet this government have shown they are incapable and unwilling to tackle real issues facing families.
As the weather warms, I look forward to not having to worry so much about how we will pay for our energy bills, but I can’t shake the feeling there is worse to come.

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