Two in five Britons think it is likely they will be hit by blackouts this winter

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
Lottie ThorntonResearch Executive
October 12, 2022, 9:37 AM GMT+0

Scots are particularly likely to be anticipating power cuts

Last week the National Grid warned that blackouts are a possibility in Britain this winter if gas supplies run very low.

Now a new YouGov Political Research survey shows that three in five Britons are concerned about blackouts occurring in the UK this winter (61%), with the same number concerned they will take place in their local area affecting either their home or place of work (60%).

The National Grid has said that blackouts are “unlikely”, and would only occur in a worst-case scenario. Nevertheless, half of Britons see them as likely to occur somewhere in the UK (48%), and the public are only marginally less likely to see expect to experience them personally (43%).

Scots in particular are more prone to thinking there will be blackouts, both in the UK in general (61%) and affecting their home or place of work specifically (53%).

A separate YouGov survey has found that most Britons (54%) would be willing to support temporarily increasing the amount of energy the UK generates from high carbon sources like coal if it was the only way to prevent blackouts.

Britons would see energy companies as more responsible than government for gas shortages this winter

Should gas shortages occur this winter the public are most likely to see that as being down to the war in Ukraine, with 75% saying this would be a large or significant part of the reason.

Britain has relatively low gas storage compared to some continental neighbours. While gas storage is owned by energy companies, they can be reliant on government subsidy. In 2013 the government decided to end subsidy for new gas storage development, saying that it was up to industry to invest in further storage.

As it stands, two thirds of Britons (65%) think that the actions of energy companies would be a major or significant factor in the shortage of gas this winter, with fewer (46%) saying the same of the government.

Conservative and Labour voters are both about as likely as the wider public to see the actions of energy companies as being a big reason behind gas shortages (63% and 67%, respectively), and both are more likely to say energy firms bear more responsibility than the government. However, Conservative voters are substantially less likely to see the government as being responsible than Labour voters (32% vs 58%).

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