NORTH Somerset Council is joining forces with a group of consumer organisations and charities to ask for urgent action to introduce a social tariff for energy to help struggling households.

As winter approaches and temperatures drop, the most vulnerable households find themselves in fuel poverty, unable to pay bills and making desperate choices between heating and eating.

Cllr Mike Bell, leader of North Somerset Council, said: "Enough is enough. We cannot see our most vulnerable people in North Somerset go through another winter in fuel poverty and risking their health by living in cold homes.

"The government promised to look at options like social tariffs in last year's Autumn Statement, but we are yet to see anything materialise.

"We are calling on the government to act with urgency and share its plans to protect low-income families from sky-high fuel bills."

In the absence of the Energy Bills Support Scheme this winter, households will be facing bills 13 per cent higher than the last, and energy costs are still substantially higher than they were before the cost of living crisis started.

"Forecasts show no sign of relief either with the prospects of many more years living in cold homes, rationing energy and struggling to cook hot meals.

"As families fall behind on bills, they will be faced with the double whammy of facing high costs while trying to drag their way out of energy debt."

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, deputy leader of the council and lead member for addressing the cost of living crisis in North Somerset, said: "This is a long-term problem that requires a long-term solution.

"While the short-term support for households was welcome last year, it wasn't targeted to those who needed it the most and this is what we, and others. are calling on the government to address urgently, before the cold weather sets in and bills spiral."

North Somerset Council has added its support to an open letter to the Prime Minister from National Energy Action, Age UK, Citizens Advice, Energy Action Scotland, Fair By Design, Money Saving Expert, and Scope.

A council spokesperson said: "It is hoped that with such a collective call that urgent action will be taken to enable all households across the UK to be able to stay warm, safe and well this winter."