On Friday, the regulator of the energy market, Ofgem, released new information about the price cap. The headline news is that the typical household energy bill could reach £3,549 from 1 October. The cap is currently £1,971 for the average household and puts a limit on how much providers can charge customers in England, Scotland, and Wales.
What is the price cap?
The energy price cap sets a limit on the amount suppliers can charge for each unit of gas and electricity used. It also sets a maximum daily standing charge which is what you pay for your home to be connected to the grid.
What's causing this rise?
Behind this staggering and frightening rise is the war in Ukraine, which is threatening gas supplies, especially from Russia. At the same time, you've got rising inflation – measured at 10.1% in July – which is the highest rate in 40 years. Inflation measures the rate at which consumer prices go up.
What impact will this have?
The brutal reality is that for millions of families and individuals across the country, this latest price cap rise, coupled with inflation means they will be forced to choose between eating and heating. Children are being advised to wear extra layers to help save energy. Pensioners who live alone will have to weigh up whether they can afford to put the central heating on and for how long.
What's even more troubling is that the energy price cap is forecast to rise to £6,616 from next April, making an already dangerous situation even worse.
How should Christians respond?
First, let's be clear about the responsibilities of the Government. The Bible teaches us that God instituted governments as an act of His grace. They exist to restrain evil, punish wrongdoing and promote what is right.
Time and again in the Bible we see God's heart for the most vulnerable in society. In the Old Testament, this is seen by God's own advocacy for the poor, for the orphans, for widows and for foreigners in Israel. Historically, these groups were the most vulnerable of all and we learn that God cared deeply about how they were treated.
Because of this, it is reasonable to expect the Government to step in and provide help for our most vulnerable neighbours, for those who need the help the most. The problem at present is we have no functioning Government because we're waiting for the new Prime Minister to be appointed. The price rise comes at a bad time.
With such a shocking, sudden development it's understandable that many of us will feel paralysed. What can we do in response to what is happening? One answer is to write to your MP and urge them to put as much pressure as they can on the Government to act and to act swiftly.
Secondly, we must pray. This is a phenomenal course of action which God's people can turn too. We know that God acts in response to the prayers of His people! Pray for your neighbours who will struggle. Pray for Government and civil servants who will seek to address this crisis. Pray for those living alone, for families on low incomes, for those dependent already on food banks.
Thirdly, the Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver. It says that if we sow generously, so we will reap. If you are in the blessed position where these rises will not impact you as much as others, what support can you give? How can you bless others with the resources you have been blessed with yourself?
Fourthly, Jesus commands us not to worry. And he explicitly links worry to things like eating and clothing. He's not being dismissive of economic reality – he spoke the command at a time where arguably everyday was a cost-of-living crisis for many, many people! No, Jesus based the command on the ability of God to provide for us. As God's people, whatever our economic circumstances, we can trust God's provision.
Finally, we can consider practical steps to be taken to conserve energy. This from the MoneySavingExpert website is very helpful on practical steps you can take to save energy.
If you want more help, here's some selected articles which could prove useful:
James Mildred is Communications Manager at CARE, which works to bring a uniquely Christian insight to UK law and policy.