National Grid unveils £2.5m fund to help poverty- stricken Brits

When will households start receiving money off energy bills?

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National Grid is offering a huge lifeline to the nation’s most vulnerable households by giving charities and local councils the chance to apply for £10,000 grants via a new £2.5million fund amid the energy crisis. Local authorities and other organisations have been invited to apply for crucial grants as energy bills continue to soar for millions of Britons. While Prime Minister Liz Truss’ energy price guarantee will freeze bills for typical households at £2,500, prices are still rising amid surging inflation in a crippling cost of living crisis. With a £400 discount that any household can apply for too, which starts this month and will be administered over the course of six months, the Government had come under fire for not offering any targeted support. 

But in a bid to prevent those worst-off in the UK, many of whom may have to choose between heating or eating this winter unless sufficient help is provided, National Grid appears to be stepping in. 

Alison Sleightholm, Regulation and Corporate Director at National Grid, said: “Every household deserves to have a warm and happy home and tackling fuel poverty is a vital and pressing priority for us this winter.

“We are looking to support, and partner with, community groups and organisations to achieve positive change and we welcome funding applications from diverse community groups and organisations.”

Before Ms Truss stepped in with the energy bills guarantee, some analysts tipped that bills could have soared as high as £6,000.  A study by the University of York had suggested this would push nearly 18 million families, or around 45 million people, into fuel poverty. 

While Ms Truss’s intervention has been welcomed, it is important to note that some households will still have to fork out more than £2,500, with this cap applying to typical households. 

The charity Citizen’s Advice has warned that energy-inefficient homes will not be covered by Ms Truss’ measure, claiming that homes with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of F may have to fork out an extra £500 on top of Ms Truss’ frozen £2,500 cap, costing them £3,000 for their annual bill. 

An EPC is the rating applied to your house based on how energy efficient your home is, ranked from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). While Ms Truss’ price knocks £1,000 off the industry regulator Ofgem’s planned price cap for October (£3,549 )for the typical household, the average energy bill for people living in homes with EPC rating F will still be £3,096.80. 

And there are reportedly 1,145,545 people who live in homes with an EPC rating F, with the figure taken from Government statistics, Citizen’s Adive noted in its report.

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However, the Government is also providing vulnerable households £1,200 of support through instalments over the year, via discounts to Council Tax and Cost of Living payments for those in receiving certain benefits.

And while Ms Truss is providing much-needed supported, questions over how the measure will be funded have sparked concerns. Analysis from Cornwall Insight has indicated the Prime Minister’s package of measures to tackle the cost of living crisis could cost as much as £140billion in a worst-case scenario, the Guardian reports. 

Depending on the changes to the price of gas, which has been largely at the mercy of Vladimir Putin who has threatened to cut off remaining exports to Europe, the final cost of the bill will at a minimum be £89billion, Cornwall Insight has claimed.

The analysts argue that the cost of supporting each household would be over £1,000 in the first year, and around £2,000 in the second year. But given that Ms Truss has ruled out using a windfall tax on energy giants raking in huge profits to fund the measure, it is expected to be funded through borrowing. 

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has warned that this will leave working people to “foot the bill”. He said in the House of Commons this month: It won’t be cheap, and the real choice, the political choice, is who is going to pay.” He later added: “More borrowing than is needed – that’s the true cost of her choice to protect oil and gas profits, isn’t it?”

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll commissioned by the National Energy Action and Food Foundation charities has revealed that parents have been reducing their food spending and eating cold meals to limit energy consumption in a bid to save on bills as prices soar. 

The study found that a quarter of parents with at least one child under 18 are buying less food to make sure they can cover their essential utility bills, while 28 percent are buying lower-quality food. 

Adam Scorer, the chief executive at National Energy Action, said: “People have had to choose between heating and eating. This winter millions will not have even that choice. The most vulnerable, including children, will be cold and hungry as energy prices spiral, despite government support.”

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