Home Finance Energy bills price hikes are devastating health and wellbeing, study claims

Energy bills price hikes are devastating health and wellbeing, study claims


High energy bills have disastrous consequences for struggling households beyond simply being able to afford heat and light, according to a new study.

British experts say there are serious consequences in terms of stress, health, disability and wellbeing, which need to be addressed.

As a result, they have developed a new way to define and measure which households are vulnerable to prolonged energy price hikes.

Employment status, housing tenure, inability to save, energy prepayment methods, and household composition are indicators of households that may struggle, according to research by the University of Sheffield, the UK Energy Research Centre, and Universities of Nottingham, East Anglia and Macedonia in Greece.

They warned that low energy price resilience (LENRES) is associated with worse health, disability, and wellbeing outcomes for adults. They said this is mainly driven by the stresses of falling behind on energy bills.

LENRES was developed to provide a way to better identify those households with low energy price resilience and how living in cold homes affects the health and wellbeing of both adults and children.

The team say the research will help policymakers introduce more targeted energy interventions for those most in need.

The recent energy price crisis initiated ‘epidemic levels’ of hardship, according to the recent Marmot Review. As a result, millions face energy-related deprivation for the first time.

Matt Copeland, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at National Energy Action, said: “Despite significant government support, this prolonged energy crisis has shattered the finances of millions of people in fuel poverty.

“Energy bill debt has risen to record levels, meaning our figures show 6 million UK households are struggling to meet their ongoing energy costs while being asked to pay for last winter.

“Identifying those households who no longer have any resilience to price shocks is crucial. As high prices continue and with volatile geopolitics impacting energy prices, targeting support to those who most need it is vital.”

Dr Andrew Burlinson, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Economics and UK Energy Research Centre, said: “Our study puts forward a definition and a quantifiable measure of low energy price resilience that can be used to inform policy making aimed at preventing the worst economic, health and wellbeing consequences of high and prolonged energy price events on households in the UK.”

Professor Giulietti, from Nottingham University Business School, added: “The UK Government has already attempted to mitigate the impact of the crisis with measures such as the universal energy price guarantee, which has allowed for speed of action in the intervention. However this was a temporary measure for most consumers and potentially failed to support the most vulnerable.

“As price volatility and uncertainty persist, policy interventions in the energy market will need to be better targeted to avoid further detriment to the most vulnerable households. This could include measures targeted at improving supply resilience as well as demand, more specifically individual household resilience in the longer-term.”

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