Nearly one in four adults plan to never turn on their heating this winter, according to a survey, as average bills are set to skyrocket when the temperature drops.
This figure is even higher for parents with children under 18, according to a Savanta ComRes survey conducted before the new price cap was announced.
Pollsters asked more than 2,000 adults across the UK how they would react to rising energy prices over the winter – 23 per cent said they wouldn’t turn their lights on at all heating, rising to 27% among parents under 18.
7 in 10 (69%) say they turn on their heating less and 1 in 10 (11%) say they want to take out a loan, with the latter figure rising again for those under 18 (17%).
It comes amid resounding warnings that people are in for a disastrous winter, with the energy price cap set to rise 80% by October, pushing the average annual household bill up by £1,971 at £3,549.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said he was working ‘hard’ to develop options for an action plan for the next prime minister so he can ‘take the lead’ when he takes office in September .
Missing in action
But some say the UK government has failed to act, when none of the Tory leadership candidates gave a detailed explanation of how they would help people before the contest was concluded.
The Liberal Democrats, who commissioned the inquiry, warned that families were being forced to make ‘heartbreaking decisions’ as the country was ‘on the brink of the worst cost of living crisis in a century’.
The party is calling on ministers to drop an energy price cap hike in October, partly funded by a new windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
The poll, which was conducted between July 29 and July 30, also suggests that parents under 18 are increasingly likely to put more on their credit card due to rising energy bills. (33% against a national average of 23%).
The survey results have been weighted to be representative of the UK by age, gender, region and social status.
After the cap hike was confirmed on Friday, Prime Minister Mark Drakeford criticized the UK government’s “failure to deal with this crisis” and called for an emergency budget to increase windfall taxes on company profits energy and freeze prices.
“We are doing everything we can to support the people of Wales, but the UK government’s failure to address this crisis will mean further hardship for many families,” he said.
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts has urged UK ministers to bring the cap back to pre-April levels and extend it to small businesses and charities, which are currently barred.
Ms Saville Roberts also slammed Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak for ‘sleepwalking into a catastrophic energy crisis’, adding that without urgent action from the government in Westminster to cut bills, ‘people will suffer in a way that should be unimaginable in a 21st Century of advanced economy”.
Christine Jardine, Cabinet Office spokeswoman for the Lib Dems, said: ‘Families and pensioners across the country are making heartbreaking decisions because the government has failed to save them.
“It is a national scandal that parents have to choose between heating their homes and feeding their children. It shouldn’t be like this.
“Britain is on the brink of the worst cost of living crisis for a century and yet Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will not let go of rising energy prices. It is clear that energy prices should not be allowed to increase in October.
Ms Jardine said an ‘economic disaster’ is now ‘a month away’, blaming a ‘zombie government in Westminster and two leadership candidates living on another planet’.
“It’s time to tax oil and gas companies’ multi-billion pound record profits and use that money to save British families and pensioners,” she said.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We know people are incredibly worried about rising energy bills, following unprecedented gas prices across the continent, driven by global events including (Vladimir) Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and his militarization of energy in Europe.
“Direct support will continue to reach people’s pockets in the weeks and months to come, targeting those most in need such as low-income households, pensioners and people with disabilities.
“As part of our £37billion household aid package, one in four UK households will receive an additional £1,200 in aid, delivered in installments throughout the year, and all the world will benefit from a £400 reduction in their energy bills during the winter.
“The Civil Service is also making the appropriate preparations to ensure that any additional cost of living support or commitments can be provided as soon as possible once the new Prime Minister is in place.”
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