Millions of people in the UK will not turn their heating on this winter because of rising energy bills, a survey suggests.

The poll, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, showed 23% of adults plan to take this drastic move, rising to 27% for those with children at home.

The results also showed 23% would be forced to use credit cards to pay their bills – up to 33% for parents – while one in 10 will take out a loan to cover the higher costs.

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How will energy prices hit households?

It follows Friday’s announcement from Ofgem that the energy price cap would rise by 80% come October, leading to the average household paying £3,549 a year for their gas and electricity.

The government is under growing pressure to announce further support to get households and businesses through the cost of living crisis, but Downing Street insists the new prime minister must decide what action to take.

There is still a week to go until the winner of the Conservative leadership contest is announced, and neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak have given precise details of what they plan to do to tackle rising bills if they get the keys to Number 10.

Yesterday, reports suggested Ms Truss – who is the frontrunner in the contest and has previously dismissed the idea of giving “handouts” to people – is planning to cut VAT from 20% to 15%, alongside her pledges to reverse the National Insurance hike and pause green levies.

More on Cost Of Living

Mr Sunak’s team criticised the rumoured VAT cut as expensive and “incredibly regressive”, with the former chancellor saying help with energy bills should be directed at low-income households and pensioners – delivered through the welfare system and winter fuel payments.

‘National scandal’

The Liberal Democrats, Labour and the SNP have all called for a freeze on the price cap, as well as additional support for the least well-off households.

Lib Dem MP and spokeswoman Christine Jardine said people would be making “heartbreaking decisions” this winter, such as keeping the heating off, because the government has “failed to save them”.

She added: “It is a national scandal that parents are having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their children. It shouldn’t be like this.

“Britain is on the brink of the worst cost of living crisis in a century and yet still Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will not scrap the energy price rise. It is clear energy prices must not be allowed to rise in October.”

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‘Health is more important than bills’

Labour is also calling for a scheme to insulate 19 million homes across the UK in order to cut household bills.

The party claims the number of homes being insulated is at its lowest level in four years, putting the blame squarely at the door of Number 10.

Shadow minister for climate change Kerry McCarthy said: “The energy price cap has just soared to record levels and people are terrified of what that means for their bills this winter.

“The government should have been working round the clock to insulate homes and ensure as many households as possible benefit from lower bills. Its failure to do so despite repeated warnings risks leaving millions out in the cold.”