4.5m UK households in fuel poverty

Some 4.5 million households in the UK are currently in fuel poverty.

This is according to the Legal & General MoneyMood Survey for January and …

Some 4.5 million households in the UK are currently in fuel poverty.

This is according to the Legal & General MoneyMood Survey for January and the figure – which represents a slight increase from October 2012 – shows how many people are struggling to make ends meet at the moment.

When asked if they were in fuel poverty – defined as when a household has to spend more than ten per cent of its income on adequately heating a home – 22 per cent responded that they were.

However, there have been some major regional increases in the UK, with the East Midlands (up 52 per cent), the south-west (up 50 per cent) and Scotland (up 35 per cent) all recording significant hikes in the number of people considered to be in fuel poverty.

Mark Gregory, chief executive officer of savings at Legal & General, stated increases in gas and electricity bills were among the main upward pressures on inflation in December 2012.

"We believe the cost of fuel is already making balancing household finances even harder for those with lower incomes.

"Any further rise in the amount spent on fuel is likely to have a significant impact on how the less well off households cope with paying bills. We will be monitoring this through the winter to see whether the fuel poverty situation changes," he added.

If consumers are struggling to get by, then they should look to bring their financial situation under control. A debt management plan represents an informal agreement that should reduce a person's monthly repayment schedule, thus freeing up more money for personal usage.

In many cases, creditors will agree to freeze interest payments, while County Court Judgements can also be suspended. This means that, provided people adopt a responsible attitude to their arrears, they should be able to regain control of their finances in the long term.

Consumers can also seek advice on how to pay utility bills.

By Joe White

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