'Difficult winter' ahead for those in need as gas prices rise 

Many families will be plunged into fuel poverty this winter.

Many families will be plunged into fuel poverty this winter. - Credit: ARCHANT

The rise in gas prices is expected to make winter a "difficult" period for many people in Cambridgeshire, as they struggle with the prospect of paying their bills and fuelling their homes. 

Wholesale gas prices have surged since the start of the year, putting energy suppliers out of business and the UK's energy supply under pressure. 

But the increase could have a knock-on effect for households in the region, with people facing having to pay more for gas and electricity. 

It is estimated that from October people will see energy bills soaring by around £140, with a further rise expected in April of around £300 due to the lifting of the energy cap. 

It comes as we launch our There With You This Winter campaign, which aims to highlight the issues faced by those living in fuel poverty and to offer support. 

There With You This Winter campaign.

There With You This Winter campaign. - Credit: ARCHANT

What's caused the crisis? 

The price of wholesale gas has surged by 250pc since the beginning of the year and added 70pc since August, according to figures from Oil and Gas UK. It has put pressure on UK suppliers. 

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It has put nine domestic energy firms out of business, forcing 1.7 million customers to find new providers at higher rates. 

Energy firms have warned that suppliers going bust will lead to households being hit with higher costs. 

One of the reasons for the price increase is a rise in global gas demand following the pandemic. 

A number of factors, including the end of furlough, ending of the £20 Universal Credit boost and rising food prices also put pressure on the household budget. 

Europe is also about to start entering winter, when gas demand will be at its highest — especially from countries such as the UK which overwhelmingly rely on gas to heat homes. 

Where you can go for support 

Local groups are offering support and advice to those struggling with their bills, including CARC. 

Citizens Advice Rural Cambs (CARC) is an independent charity providing expert information and advice to the residents of rural Cambridgeshire.  

Their volunteer gateway assessors and advisers are trained by our own training team to the highest standards to delivery this information and advice through multiple channels including email, telephone, face to face and web chat. 

Anyone in need free impartial advice can get in touch at www.citizensadviceruralcambs.org.uk or by calling 0808 278 7807. 

Advice and support can be found on the Citizens Advice website including information on grants and benefits for those struggling with bills at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also offers support on the gov.uk website. 

It offers the Warm House Discount which provides eligible households with a one-off £140 discount on their energy bills for winter 2021 to 2022. 

There is also Winter Fuel Payments, worth between £100 and £300, which are paid automatically to those with a state pension or other social security benefit, and Cold Weather Payments, a £25 payment for vulnerable households. 

For more information visit www.gov.uk/government/news/rising-gas-prices-protections-for-consumers 

Our campaign 

Thousands across the region could face a struggle to pay their bills, fuel their homes and even feed their families this winter. 

That is the stark prediction amid fears a perfect storm of financial pressures will push many into hardship over the forthcoming months. 

Therefore, this newspaper is launching a new hard-hitting campaign to recognise the financial challenges some of our readers face, raise awareness and offer support during the cold winter months. 

As part of our campaign, 'There With You This Winter', we hope to stand by our communities, just as we did with a series of campaigns during the coronavirus pandemic. 

There are plenty of local organisations and support groups offering advice. We will be profiling these throughout the campaign.  

Here are some websites worth checking out: