Thursday, July 7, 2011

As many as 6 million Brits could be forced to choose between a hot meal or heating their homes this winter

A quarter of Brits are living in fuel poverty as energy bills rocket
by Ruki Sayid, Daily Mirror 6/07/2011

As energy prices go through the roof, shocking figures reveal one in four families has been plunged into fuel poverty.

Single parents are the hardest hit with 39% of mother or father and child households struggling to pay bills.

The figures are higher than the one in five first estimated and show for the first time wealthier families have also been hammered by spiralling fuel costs with 15% of middle classes now fuel poor.

Research from price comparison website uSwitch found the number would leap to one in three if housing costs were added in.

It means at least 18 million people are spending 10% or more of their take home pay on energy bills. Based on the new way of calculating fuel poverty, 47% of working class families and 22% of the middle classes fall into this bracket.

A quarter of families with a stay-at-home parent are fuel poor but uSwitch argues this figure would soar to 44% if mortgages or rents were included. The number of fuel poor single parent families would jump from 39% to 52% while pensioner numbers would rise from 33% to 36%.

According to the website, fuel bills have rocketed by 71% in the past five years rising from £660 a year in 2006 to £1,131 today.

And there’s worse to come as from next month, 2.4 million Scottish Power customers will be paying 10% more for electricity and 19% more for gas.

British Gas is expected to announce similar hikes ahead of parent company Centrica unveiling its results on July 28 with rivals following suit.

Consumer Focus warned as many as 6 million could be forced to choose between a hot meal or heating their homes this winter.

William Baker, Head of Fuel Poverty Policy added: “Rising energy prices will lead to a bigger bills and a huge upswing in fuel poverty. This will mean an increasing percentage of our population, especially those on low incomes, are more likely to live in colder or damp houses or face higher debt.”

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  1. Oh yeah?

    Look at this.

    Its getting worse fast.

    Not enough solar ...

  2. "This will mean an increasing percentage of our population, especially those on low incomes, are more likely to live in colder or damp houses"

    As someone who actually lived on the Emerald Isle, let me assure all readers that this is already the case.

    I lived in a row house in Ennis, Co. Clair. It was built in the late 1980s and had all the latest energy saving devices. For instance, there was a fireplace that had a boiler in it, hooked into the radiator system so the heat from the fireplace could be distributed around the house. It also had an electric heater attached to a timer that turned on when the rates were low and then stored up heat so the kitchen was warm in the morning. Then there was the tank-inside-a-tank hot water, so you could warm only the hand-and-disk-washing part and only heat up the rest if you wanted a bath.

    You know what they didn't have?

    So I'm sitting there one September evening, freezing and wondering why. Then I noticed the drapes were blowing around. So I went to close the window... but it was closed. That's right, the cold wind was blowing right through the window frame. And the door frame. And the holes in the roof.

    That's because there was no insulation or weatherstripping. At all. Single pane windows held shut by a sash. Doors with now seals and single-sided mail slots. The house was a sieve.

    And it's not like this is uncommon. A recent trip to London left me shivering behind closed windows with moving drapes.

    Perhaps the governments would have been well advised to run an upgrade program or two over the last three decades, when it was clear to anyone that prices would be going up again as some point. Sure, it's expensive to insulate a roof, and especially walls, but gap sealing and weatherstripping costs diddly and would improve the average building over there by leaps and bounds.


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