Saturday, 22 Jan 2022

2,000,000 more households facing fuel poverty as energy bills soar

The UK is facing a fuel poverty crisis that could drag in two million more households in the next 12 months.

That’s the stark warning issued by 25 charities in a joint call for urgent action to ween the country off expensive gas.

In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak, they said families are having to choose between heating and eating and there will be an increase in the number of people dying from cold in their homes.

A massive spike in the wholesale price of gas has sent consumer bills rocketing and put several providers out of business.

The energy price cap will be raised in April 1 and analysts have warned families will have to pay out hundreds of pounds more every year as companies try to stay afloat in a turbulent market.

Ministers are under pressure to take action to prevent the cost of living crisis from deepening, and Mr Johnson said the government is ‘looking at what we can do’ to soften the blow.

Now 25 charities, including Save the Children, Age UK, End Fuel Poverty Coalition, WWF, Green Alliance and Greenpeace, have called for drastic action.

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The joint letter warns the number of households in fuel poverty would rise from four to six million and urged the government to invest in green measure like insulation to end dependence on expensive fossil fuels.

Simon Francis, co-ordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: ‘Fuel poverty is a public health and poverty crisis but can only be solved by economic measures, and the government must do everything possible to help people in crisis now while investing in energy efficiency programmes to fix the long-term problem.’

Dan Paskins, of Save the Children, warned energy prices are ‘totally unsustainable’ and are ‘hitting the lowest-income families the hardest’.

He added: ‘Parents we work with tell us that they’re struggling to meet basic needs, leaving them having to make impossible choices between heating their homes and buying clothes for their children, and children are paying the price.’

Greenpeace UK’s Dr Douglas Parr highlighted calls for windfall tax on oil and fas companies to help transition away from expensive energy sources.

He said: ‘The twin imperatives of a gas price crisis and the climate crisis mean we need to get off fossil fuels as fast as we can whilst protecting people on low incomes.’

A government spokesperson said: ‘We recognise people are facing pressures with the cost of living, which is why we are taking action worth more than £4.2 billion and supporting vulnerable households through initiatives such as the £500 million Household Support Fund and Warm Home Discount.

‘The Energy Price Cap is currently insulating millions of consumers from high global gas prices. We’ll continue to listen to consumers and businesses on how to manage the costs of energy.’

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