Millions of households in England will be plunged into fuel poverty this year even if Liz Truss caps energy costs, a campaign group has warned.
Fuel poverty is becoming one of the biggest challenge facing households struggling with the soaring cost of living as experts warn of a winter crisis.
The new prime minister is expected to announce an energy price cap freeze at around £2,500 in her first major policy announcement on Thursday since being appointed to the role.
The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has warned 5,328,406 households in England will be in fuel poverty by 1 October even if Truss caps energy at the level reported.
For a household to qualify as fuel poor in England they must:
live in a property with a fuel poverty energy efficiency rating of band D or below; and
be left with a residual income below the official poverty line when they spend the required amount to heat their home,
In Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland the definition is if a household spends 10% of its income on fuel costs and the remaining household income is insufficient to maintain an adequate standard of living.
The West Midlands has some of highest levels of fuel poverty in the UK, with six of the 10 worst affected local authority areas in the region.
Wolverhampton is projected to have the highest level of fuel poverty from 1 October at 37.85%, followed by Stoke-on-Trent at 37.29%, and Birmingham 36.81%.
In contrast, all of the 10 least fuel poor areas are in South East – with the City of London at 7.36%, followed by Wokingham at 8.93%, and Surrey Heath at 9.78%.
Top 10 areas in fuel poverty from 1 October:
Kingston upon Hull, City of 35.13%
Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, has said the government needs to make sure support gets through "to the right people" this winter.
“The government’s plans focus on offering welcome universal support through a price freeze, but we also need additional help for the millions of households in fuel poverty who are already struggling," said Francis.
Elsewhere, responding to the data, Ruth London at Fuel Poverty action said: "People of all ages are being robbed of even the essentials of life while massive energy corporations chalk up undreamed of profits."
The price tag of Truss's energy bill plan is expected to be financed through government borrowing with a price tag of up to £100bn – raising fears of high taxes in the near future after she ruled out windfall taxes.
It comes after experts warn over half of UK households could fall into fuel poverty this winter, with forecasts predicting the average yearly household energy bill could surpass £5,000 in 2023.
“We face, despite the support that the government has already announced, a dramatic and catastrophic winter for our customers,” Philippe Commaret, managing director of EDF, told the BBC in August.
“In fact, in January half of the UK households might be in fuel poverty.”
Households are also facing soaring inflation, which is expected to surpass 13% by January.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs in August warned inflation could hit as much as 22% in early 2023.
Watch: Truss promises action to give consumers ‘certainty’ over soaring energy costs