Rising energy costs - a threat to independent living of the vulnerable

Posted 03 Oct 22

The rising costs of energy that the country has been experiencing of late has seen a substantial number of vulnerable people struggling to cope with utility bills as the soaring prices have not been in tandem with their social benefits.
According to Ofgem, the wholesale price of gas increased by 404% in the past 12 months, including a 70% rise in the past three months. The article goes on to elaborate that with 85% of UK households being heated by gas boilers, this had already produced a massive ripple effect which has led to spiralling costs and reduction in supply.
The BBC News reported in an article of September 30, 2022; that the annual energy bill for a typical household was expected to rise from £1, 971 to £2, 500 resulting in a 27% increase as from the 1st of October 2022, a development that is expected to have a negative bearing on the vulnerable population of our society.
On the other hand, social benefits for the vulnerable such as the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment and Housing benefits have remained stagnant causing a disparity between the income and expenditure for their day to day living. The increase in utility bills has also caused a ripple effect on the cost of other day to day needs like food and transport making the general cost of living unmanageable. The situation has then resulted in the vulnerable prioritising their food and other daily expenses forgoing the utility bills.
This unsustainable financial position affecting the vulnerable potentially pose the risk of termination of tenancy lease agreements prematurely as the services they occupy require payments of utility bills amongst others in order to function efficiently and effectively in their best interest.
As a result, this therefore, further threatens the clients’ independent living as they may have to end up vacating the services moving into congregated settings which will deprive them of their independence - hence reversing the gains realised within independent supported living services.
It has been noted that a considerable number of service users are now compromising their day-to-day lifestyle by for instance avoiding usage of heating facilities to maintain a warm environment in the home as well as avoiding usage of tumble driers for laundry. In the same vein, others have resorted to only switching on the boiler when they intend to use warm water.
Given the circumstances, relevant authorities ought to consider measures to cushion the vulnerable from the rising costs of living so their journey to independence and becoming better in this society remains uninterrupted.