David Woakes, Business Development Director, Auriga Services:

Yesterday’s package of support announcement to address the cost-of-living crisis by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, certainly goes some way to help but will continue to be a great cause for concern for many of the households now experiencing fuel poverty and particularly the country’s most vulnerable and those who rely on benefits.

At Auriga we know that the ‘working poor’ – the low and middle-income earners who have until now been able to live with the rising costs are also feeling the squeeze more than ever before.

In the announcement, we understand that the Government has sought to ease the cost-of-living crisis and provide support where it can by ensuring the UK’s most vulnerable, disabled and pensioners get the most support – and we applaud that. But we are sure there is more to be done.

The energy bills discount due to come in from October and which will see all UK households gain a £400 grant towards soaring energy prices will make a difference, but when all costs are rising – from the petrol pump to the supermarket – there is still going to be a huge shortfall in household funds and the £400 is just not in-line with the price cap rise from Ofgem.

The new Cost of Living Support Package will mean that almost all of the eight million most vulnerable households will receive at least £1,200 of extra support this year, including the £150 council tax rebate that many families received last month. This is positive news for our customers and we know it will be welcomed.

To ensure there is support for everyone who needs it, Mr Sunak had previously announced a £500 million increase for the Household Support Fund, delivered by Local Authorities (LAs), extending it from October until March 2023. As a facilitator of these funds and by working closely with some of the country’s largest LAs, this is good news and we look forward to helping roll this out.

But as an organisation on the front line of those in need, more still needs to be done.

We will no doubt continue to see a sharp increase in people contacting us via our partners because they’re at risk of losing their energy supply, as they just can’t afford their payments and we are processing more fuel vouchers for those on pre-payment meters than ever before, seeing an increase of over 40% year on year.

Auriga currently supports over 1800 people a day, in line with our mission of changing lives every day. Given the current situation and future expectation, we have more relevance than ever as we increase our capacity and solutions working with our partners in local authorities, utility companies and housing associations.

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