People across the UK are struggling to heat their homes due to ‘unbelievably high prices’ and are now facing ‘horrific consequences’ from the cold snap, an energy poverty charity has warned.
National Energy Action has urged the government to provide more support to “those most in danger” as parts of the UK are hit by freezing conditions.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a Level 3 cold warning covering England until Monday and the Met Office has issued several yellow weather warnings for snow and ice in parts of the UK over the next few days.
It comes as people on the lowest incomes in hundreds of affected postcode districts in England and Wales will receive a £25 cold weather payment.
Government payments have been triggered for eligible households in areas where the average temperature has been recorded as – or predicted to be – 0C or lower for seven consecutive days.
But Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, said more needs to be done, adding: “Millions of people must have feared the onset of winter.
“Shockingly high prices and now the cold will leave millions struggling to stay warm and safe at home.
“Our data shows 6.7 million UK households are fuel-poor after energy prices nearly doubled in a year.
“We hear from people on a daily basis being forced to turn off their heating when they need it most.
“The vicious choice is either massive debt or an unheated house, with dire consequences either way.
We hear daily from people being forced to turn off their heating when they need it most
Adam Scorer, National Energy Action
“Now we will begin to see how bleak this winter will be.
“Despite the current support programme, the government must step in with more aid for those most in danger this winter.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: ‘Cold weather payments can be triggered until the end of March, giving people facing disproportionately cold weather that extra reassurance during the coldest months.
“We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and this extra help comes in addition to wider Government support, including £1,200 in direct payments already made to millions of low-income families this year.
“On top of this, we will be providing households with £400 towards their energy bills this winter, with our Energy Price Guarantee saving the typical household another £900.”
The Met Office said temperatures “dipping near minus 10C” could be recorded in rural areas on Thursday overnight.
He warned motorists that winter downpours will create dangerous, icy patches on some roads in the coming days.
The meteorologist has extended a yellow weather alert for snow and ice across northern Scotland until 12pm on Sunday.
Yellow warnings were also issued on Friday for ice in coastal and northern England and parts of Wales and Northern Ireland.
Ice conditions in the coast of England and parts of Northern Ireland and Wales are expected to continue into Saturday, he warned.
He said icy patches on untreated roads, sidewalks and bike paths could cause disruptions.