THE boss of one of Britain’s biggest energy companies has warned the cost-of-living crisis could endure for more than a year and a half.
Eon CEO Michael Lewis gave a dire warning that millions of customers will be in fuel poverty when the price cap rises again in October.
And he called for the Government to intervene urgently amid the “unprecedented” hardships faced by Brits.
In an interview on the BBC, he said: “In my 30 years in energy, I have never seen prices increase at this rate.”
He blamed most of the problems on the war in Ukraine – and said the situation will worsen in the months to come.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in October,” he said.
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“I think for the next 18 months we’re likely to see higher prices.
“That’s already baked in, certainly in October and probably into next year as well.
“I think the longer-term development depends on what happens in the war in Ukraine, what happens with Mr Putin. I have no idea how that will develop.”
By the autumn, 40 per cent of Eon’s eight million customers will be in fuel poverty, meaning more than 10 per cent of their disposable income will go on fuel bills, he said.
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One million customers are already behind on their bills, and that’ll increase by 50 per cent, he added.
“It’s a very, very significant impact,” Mr Lewis said.
“We do need more intervention come October and it’ll need to be very substantial.”
Many are already at breaking point, with bills set to dramatically leap as the colder months take hold, he said.
“Frankly, some people are at the edge. They simply cannot pay, and that will get worse when prices go up again,” he warned.
And while a range of help is available – including the warm homes discount and an Eon energy fund for those struggling the most – the scale of the problem is “simply too big for us to manage”, he said.
Households saw the energy price cap rise 54 per cent in April. In October, it could rise 40 per cent – or an increase of £2,750 for the average dual fuel bill.
That’s a predicted increase of more than £700 from the current cap of £1,971, and would mean that energy prices would have doubled in just a year, The Money Edit reports.
But Mr Lewis, who reportedly earned £1million last year, says it could be as high as £3,000.
Some people are at the edge… it’s unprecedented
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis told the Mail last night: “We are not in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, we are at the start of a cost-of-living crisis.
“It is almost certainly going to get worse – the problems are going to peak over the winter months, from October onwards, when we’re expecting to see energy bills rise again by another 30 per cent.
“I don’t think there is much hope of this ending before Christmas.”
He said the Government’s blueprint would be “more of a three, four or five-year answer” and it would do little to help Brits struggling to keep the heating on now.
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The PM’s plans for more homegrown wind, nuclear, solar and hydrogen power will likely take at least two years to filter through to the grid, where they then have an impact on prices.