With average real incomes heading down and average fuel bills going up, the typical British household will be in “fuel poverty” by the 2015 if energy bills stay on their current path.
Fuel prices have almost doubled as a share of median income since 2004, and an official target to spend £200bn on new infrastructure by 2020, mainly on the so-called Smart Grid, will intensify the price rises.
Next month, the average annual bill for a “dual fuel” (Gas and electric) customer will reach £1,293, or 6 per cent of median household income, compared with 3.3 per cent in 2004. Any household that spends 10 per cent of median income on electricity and gas lives in “fuel poverty”, according to the government’s definition.
Energy costs have risen more than six times faster than household incomes since 2004 acording to the Financial Times. The average dual fuel energy bill has climbed 117 per cent in the past seven years, while median household income has increased 18 per cent. On present trends, energy costs will absorb 7.4 per cent of median household income by 2013, 8.2 per cent in 2014 – and 10 per cent in 2015.
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Government says its doing what it can
Unbelievably, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is making no effort to free people from the grid. It said: “We know that rising energy prices, driven by international fossil fuel prices, are hitting many households hard at a difficult time. We are taking action to help consumers help themselves by shopping around, switching, as well as helping them make their homes more energy efficient.”
Wholesale gas prices, set by the international market and beyond the power of any British politician, have been the governing factor behind higher bills since 2004.
The profits of the “big six” utilities are less significant than might be thought. Deutsche Bank forecasts that UK households will spend £48bn on energy in 2015: of this, only £1.3bn will be the post-tax profits of retailers. But that does not take into account the energy generating arms of the Utilities.
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