(Bloomberg) -- The number of UK households in fuel poverty will continue to worsen, touching 6.5 million from January, because of a planned energy price increase and the scaling back of government support.

Many Britons, struggling with high energy bills on top of a cost-of-living crisis, are already using “shocking coping tactics,” National Energy Action said in a statement published Wednesday, with 2 million people “self-disconnecting” and going without any power and natural gas use. 

While wholesale prices have eased significantly from the peak of Europe’s energy crisis last year, British consumers are still grappling with elevated bills because most government support ended earlier in 2023. The new polling commissioned by the charity from YouGov comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement last week announced no extra aid for the most vulnerable households and as a cold snap across Europe is pushing up demand for heating.

Meanwhile, regulator Ofgem raised the national price cap for energy to £1,928 from January, up 5% from current levels. That’s an annual bill for a typical UK household, but those using the least amount of energy are facing a bigger rate increase. 

Right now, 6.3 million UK households are in fuel poverty, according to National Energy Action. That’s up from 4.5 million, recorded in October 2021, when Europe’s energy crunch began, it said. Over the last three months, millions have been using appliances like ovens or going to bed early to stay warm, the study showed.

Based on the charity’s estimates, more than 20% of Britain’s households would be energy-poor from January, according to data from the statistics office.

Several suppliers, including the country’s biggest energy provider, Centrica Plc, have already urged the government to consider measures to support vulnerable consumers this winter. “Customers are struggling with high energy bills,” Centrica Chief Executive Officer Chris O’Shea said in a separate statement this week. 

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