TENS of thousands of Barnsley homes will be hit by a predicted £139 per year rise to their energy bills later this year - as support for the most vulnerable is withdrawn.
Low-income families could be especially affected by the price hike as Ofgem, the UK energy regulators, announced the rise is predicted to come in the same month as a £20 per week Universal Credit uplift ends.
The Ofgem energy price cap - which protects people from being overcharged for energy - will increase from October 1 for the 15 million customers it protects across the UK.
Those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see an increase of £139, from £1,138 to £1,277 per year, while repayment customers will see an increase of £153, from £1,156 to £1,309 per year.
The increase has been driven by a rise of over 50 per cent in energy costs over the last six months, as gas prices hit a record high as the world emerges from lockdown.
Comparing data from Berneslai homes and the 2019 ‘Our Borough Profile’ report by Barnsley Council, around 83 per cent of the 110,590 homes in Barnsley are privately owned or rented and therefore pay their energy bills privately.
This means that some residents in Barnsley are statistically likely to fall vulnerable to the rise.
“We know the cut to Universal Credit, coupled with October’s rise in energy bills is going to have a big impact on local people,” said Jo Clark, CEO of Citizens Advice Barnsley.
“Many households are still struggling with the financial effects caused by Covid-19, and the end to furlough scheme could see many more facing redundancy.
“We urge anyone who’s worried about how they’re going to afford the bills this Autumn to get in contact with us for advice as soon as possible. We have a range of different services that can help.”
Coun Jenny Platts, cabinet spokesperson for adults and communities, said: "We want everyone in Barnsley to know support is on hand to help you and your family if you find yourself in financial difficulty.
“A wide range of financial advice is available through the council and our area teams to help residents through times of hardship, including as a result of the pandemic.
"I would encourage anyone who thinks they may need support to get in touch. Come to us at the earliest opportunity.
“Whether you're struggling with rent, debts, heating your home or you simply want to see how improving your energy efficiency could help save you money, our dedicated teams will be able to help.
"Support is also on hand from our partners at Berneslai Homes. Their Tenants First Service offers a range of support, helping tenants manage their rent, budget for bills and maximise their income.”
Information can be found on the council’s website.