Measures required ‘to stop households slipping into fuel poverty’

Action needs to be taken to halt the pattern of people falling into fuel poverty.

The annual report from the government's Fuel Poverty Advisory…

Action needs to be taken to halt the pattern of people falling into fuel poverty.

The annual report from the government's Fuel Poverty Advisory Group has warned there will be 300,000 more individuals struggling to heat their homes than at the same time last year. A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than ten per cent of its income on fuel for adequate heating.

With five of the big six energy providers announcing price hikes for the end of this year, while E.ON will increase its charges in January, many people are being forced to choose how long they can afford to have their heating on for.

Mike O'Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus, has called on the government to introduce radical measures to address the problem, which will spiral out of control if it is left unchecked. At the moment, six million households already plan to cut back on their heating this winter because they are worried about money.

"Current government plans for energy efficiency schemes are inadequate to deal with the scale of the fuel poverty problem. Millions of older people, families and people with disabilities will be left living in cold homes and struggling to afford their bills unless extra measures are taken.

"A much more ambitious energy-efficiency programme is vital. Not only could this slash fuel poverty levels, it would also create economic growth," he added.

If individuals are struggling to pay their heating bills, there could also be issues with keeping on top of their other outgoings. If this is the case, then they might want to seek out debt advice to prevent the situation from getting any worse.

Anyone who owes over £1,500 in total to at least two creditors can use a debt management plan to bring their situation under control, while the repayment schedule will be altered to make it more affordable.

By James Francis

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