More than a quarter of parents in the UK with children under the age of 18 have said they plan to do without home heating this winter as energy costs increase, according to a new poll.
The survey, which was carried out before the most recent price cap was announced, asked more than 2,000 adults how they would respond to rising prices.
Overall, 23 per cent said they would not turn their heating on at all, a figure which rose to 27 per cent among parents with children under the age of 18.
“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,” said Christine Jardine, Cabinet Office spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, which commissioned the survey.
“Britain is on the brink of the worst cost-of-living crisis in a century and yet still [Conservative leadership candidates] 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.”
The party is calling for ministers to scrap the energy price cap rise in October, funded partly by a further windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
More than two thirds of respondents to the survey, 69 per cent, said they would switch their heating on less.
And around one in 10, 11 per cent, said they would take out a loan. The figure rose to 17 per cent among those with children under 18.
The polling, which was conducted between July 29 and July 30, also suggests parents of under-18s are increasingly likely to put more on their credit card because of rising energy bills, at 33 per cent, compared with national average of 23 per cent.
The results were weighted to be representative of the UK by age, sex, region and social grade.
It comes days after it was announced the energy price cap would increase to £3,549 a year for an average household from October 1, representing an 80 per cent rise on April, when the cap was last reset.
UK Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has said middle earners will probably need help to pay their energy bills this winter.
“If you are a senior nurse or a senior teacher on £45,000 a year, you're having your energy bills go up by 80 per cent and (they) will probably rise even higher in the new year — it’s really hard,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
A Government representative said: “We know people are incredibly worried about rising energy bills, following unprecedented gas prices across the continent driven by global events, including (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's aggression in Ukraine and his weaponisation of energy in Europe.
“Direct support will continue to reach people's pockets in the weeks and months ahead, targeted at those who need it most like low-income households, pensioners and those with disabilities.
“As part of our £37 billion package of help for households, one in four of all UK households will see £1,200 extra support, provided in instalments across the year, and everyone will receive a £400 discount on their energy bills over winter.
“The Civil Service is also making the appropriate preparations to ensure that any additional support or commitments on cost of living can be delivered as quickly as possible when the new prime minister is in place.”
Victoria Prentis, a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told Times Radio there are “many, many different plans being worked on by civil servants and ministers at the moment”.
Ms Prentis, who supports Mr Sunak in the leadership race, said that the nationalisation of Britain's energy industry or freezing the price cap were “not the solution”.
But she said targeted support was needed.
“What we need to do is not necessarily help everybody in the country in the same way.
“We need to make sure that while we will be providing some general support … most of our support goes to those really vulnerable households, particularly pensioners, people with disabilities, for example, people who really don't have other options.”