2 million of the most vulnerable left waiting months for help with energy bills

Nearly two million people were left waiting months for energy bill support when prices rocketed, MPs warned.

The Government must clarify how it will protect consumers from price rises “as a matter of urgency”, the Public Accounts Committee said.

PAC chair Meg Hillier said it is “welcome” to see the Government supporting households, but many who most needed help “were kept waiting longest”.

She continued: “We need to see better understanding from the Government on vulnerable customers’ circumstances so that help can be prioritised for those who need it most.”

She said plans to ensure energy affordability this winter have not been seen.”

Around 1.7 million people waited months for help due to the Government’s “lack of bandwidth” to ensure all groups received support together.

The cross-party group said it had “serious concerns” about the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s “lack of urgency in addressing the energy market failures leading to high energy bills”.

In February 2023, DESNZ estimated that support would cost £69billion, of which £16billion was paid between October and December 2022.

Around 900,000 households without a direct relationship to a domestic energy supplier only became eligible for the domestic consumers’ Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding on February 27, almost five months after consumers began receiving discounts.

A DESNZ spokesman said the “complexities” of delivering to such households has not been recognised, adding: “It’s right we made sure there was a robust system to help protect people against fraud before rolling it out.”

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