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Energy bills ‘could hit almost £1,900 annually in coldest months of year’

Household energy bills could climb to an average of almost £1,900 a year in the coldest months of the year under the government’s energy price cap, according to a leading forecaster.

The energy price cap is expected to climb from an average of £1,834 a year set to take effect from October to just under £1,898 for the months from January to March, according to analysts at Cornwall Insight, in a blow to households hit by the cost of living crisis.

The energy price cap sets the maximum price that suppliers can charge based on the typical gas and electricity bill, meaning a cold winter could push bills higher if households need to keep the heating on for longer. The cap remains more than 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The latest energy bill forecast follows calls from more than 140 organisations and individuals, including the consumer champion Martin Lewis, to help Britain’s least well-off households with a social tariff for their gas and electricity.

In the letter, seen by the Guardian, they demand help for households facing “impossibly high energy bills”, which experts warn will continue for the rest of the decade.

The forecast increase effectively wipes out the modest drop for the energy price cap due to come in from 1 October but fuel poverty campaigners warned that even the small decrease was unlikely to ease the financial burden for the most vulnerable households.

“It’s hugely worrying that the pain of higher energy prices is set to wreak havoc on vulnerable households again this winter,” said Peter Smith, the director of policy at National Energy Action.

“Since the withdrawal of almost all energy bill support, time is running out for the UK government to come forward with targeted energy bill support to protect the most vulnerable households. Too many households are already drowning in energy debt and won’t be able to cope with even higher, unaffordable bills, again this winter.”

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The price cap increase is likely to reignite calls for a social tariff, which would set a lower dual fuel energy price for households on low incomes. The energy price is designed to reflect the fair cost of supplying energy but campaigners claim that since the war in Ukraine triggered an increase in market prices it is no longer affordable for millions of households.

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