Report Shows Government Is Failing Pensioners In Fuel Poverty

The Government is failing pensioners and poor families in fuel poverty, according to a coalition of Age Concern, Child Poverty Action Group, and National Energy Action.

As ministers and energy industry leaders prepare for a major summit hosted by Ofgem today, new figures show that the average energy bill has tipped the vast majority of single pensioners and lone-parent families entitled to basic state benefits into fuel poverty.

The coalition is demanding urgent action from the summit to help almost one in five UK households - an estimated 4.5 million - living in fuel poverty.

A household is defined as fuel poor when it spends more than 10% of its income on fuel costs. The new figures published show that rocketing energy prices have pushed large swathes of the poorest and most vulnerable households into fuel poverty.

With 600,000 households pushed into fuel poverty by this year's price hikes alone, the coalition warns that the recent announcement that 100,000 households will be helped by energy suppliers putting an extra £225 million into social assistance schemes, will barely scratch the surface of the fuel poverty crisis. And, with ministers admitting that the Government's 2010 fuel poverty target will not be met, the coalition is warning that it must urgently come up with a new strategy backed by a radical package of measures.

Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern, said: "The Government must really switch-on to ending fuel poverty. The figures show that it is failing miserably to help the poorest and most vulnerable pensioners and families affected. The action taken so far is nowhere near enough to help those pushed into fuel poverty this year, let alone in the future."

Paul Dornan, Head of Policy for Child Poverty Action Group, said: "The poorest families are already struggling to stay out of debt and are often forced to pay much higher than average rates for fuel through pre-payment meters. We need swift government action to protect poor children from fuel poverty, or families will be plunged into debt and left with unacceptable spending choices, like whether their child has a warm coat, a warm home, or a hot dinner."

With the energy companies warning that energy prices are set to rise again pushing more and more households into fuel poverty, the coalition is calling on the Government to take bold and decisive action to fulfil its commitment to end fuel poverty.


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