ealth sector leaders warn the UK faces a “humanitarian crisis” of worsening health outcomes unless the Government does more to help with rising energy costs.
Families are looking ahead to a grim winter as experts predict the cap on energy bills will hit close to £3,600 per year from October – before rising again next year.
Surging prices mean people will have to choose between skipping meals to heat their homes or living in poor conditions, the NHS Confederation said in a letter to ministers.
Matthew Taylor is chief executive of the body, which represents NHS leaders, and was quoted by the BBC and The Times as saying: “The country is facing a humanitarian crisis.
“Many people could face the awful choice between skipping meals to heat their homes and having to live in cold, damp and very unpleasant conditions.
“This in turn could lead to outbreaks of illness and sickness around the country and widen health inequalities, worsen children’s life chances and leave an indelible scar on local communities.”
The regulator is set to announce the new price cap, which will come into effect from October, next Friday.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have suggested plans to freeze bills at the same level as now, while many of the biggest energy suppliers have backed a similar idea.
But the Government has made it clear it will not do anything substantial until a new prime minister is in office on September 5.
On Thursday, the trade body for energy companies called for more support on top of the £400 promised to households in May.
“Time is running very short ahead of October and we know many customers are already struggling after the last price rise – so the predicted increases will simply be unaffordable for millions of households,” said Dhara Vyas, Energy UK’s director of advocacy.
“Given the urgency, our industry believes the most practical way to help customers ahead of Christmas will be to increase the amount of support made through the existing bills support scheme.”