You can bet the regional price of home heating oil soared after this explosion at Irving Oil, Saint John, New Brunswick in 2018.
Affordable housing is not just a collection of construction material and land costs. It’s a purse that must stretch to cover a rental or purchase . . . after any and all other essential costs have been plucked out. Food and utility costs are some obvious essentials.
This series of articles covers essential costs or benefits that might not seem so obvious, but nonetheless, depending on how they are structured, can turn affordable housing into unaffordable housing.
Home Energy Cost
In Britain, it’s estimated that three million people live in a state of fuel poverty. That number is expected to go up significantly, thanks to a rise in the country’s energy fuel cap. Ofgem, an independent regulator, is responsible to Parliament, controlling fuel costs in the best interests of national green objectives, as well as the pocket books of all citizens, not just the poorest.
Ofgem’s decision to increase the cap, however, are ultimately determined by the wholesale price of fuel. After dropping in the first year of the pandemic, wholesale prices are now rebounding, and with an increase in the fuel cap as many as half a million more citizens may be added to those already suffering from food poverty.
What can be done about it? Universal Credit is the national means of providing support to the UK’s poorest citizens. This all-in-one payment is not intended to be adjusted when an individual cost (such as fuel) rises. Adding insult to injury in the face of this increasing fuel cost burden, the temporary boost in Universal Credit to support additional COVID-19 expenses is set to expire, around the same time the energy price cap lifts. This double hit will significantly reduce the regular support payments to the most vulnerable.
What can be done about this increase in poverty? Activists at least have helpful ideas, which seems more than can be said of Ofgem or the government. Read more in The Guardian: ‘My heart sank’: how lifting energy price cap will hit the most vulnerable