More than one million families are so poor they cannot afford to heat their homes and stay warm, official figures show.
The number of families trapped in fuel poverty now stands at 1,027,000. The shocking figures consists of 679,000 two-parent families and 348,000 single-parent families.
According to the latest statistics, 18% of families with children are living in fuel poverty in England and figures show a £400 gap between energy prices and what many families can afford to pay.
Millions of others were left “worrying about how they will make ends meet this winter”.
Campaigners claim the big freeze is caused by a combination of rising energy prices and changes to the welfare system, reports the Independent newspaper.
Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Caroline Flint MP, who obtained the figures, said Britain is facing an “energy crisis”.
The figures also reveal how pensioners have largely been insulated from fuel poverty, because of government policies aimed at helping older people cope with rising fuel and energy prices – including Winter Fuel Payments and protecting the State Pension from the worst of austerity cuts.
Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread, said:
“Single parent families are hit harder by rises in fuel prices because a larger proportion of their outgoings have to go on the essentials, such as energy bills and food for their family.
“At the same time wages haven’t risen and cuts to tax credits and other benefits are putting many under serious financial pressure.”
The National Energy Action charity called on the government to widen the scope of Winter Fuel Payments and help more families with insulating their homes.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey insisted, “fuel poverty has fallen year on year”, but conceded “there’s still some way to go”. He said the government is, “targeting help at those who need it most”.
Read the full story at: www.independent.co.uk