MP urges fuel poverty victims to seek help
One in two low income households are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work, according to new research by Turn2us, a UK charity which helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.
The report found that amongst the hardest hit were people with disabilities and families, with almost two-thirds of working parents (65%) saying they were unable to meet their energy costs.
Of those households who are struggling with energy costs, nearly half have done so for more than a year.
The knock-on effect is severe, with a third forced to skip meals and over a fifth experiencing stress and other mental health problems.
The research showed that nearly two-fifths were struggling with other essential bills, with Council Tax topping the list of payments on which people were falling behind.
Responding to the news, Co-Chair of the Fuel Poverty APPG and Conservative MP for Castle Point, Rebecca Harris, said: “This report is a real eye opener into the number of people still struggling to heat their homes in winter.
“We did see energy bills falling earlier this year, with all the major suppliers passing on the savings to customers from lower global wholesale gas prices which should’ve helped many households make their finances go a little further.
“The Government was also able to reduce energy bills on average by £50 per household by reducing the green levies placed on household bills, and continues to work with the industry to find practical and workable solutions to tackle excessive energy bills.
“There is however more that can be done, and as this report highlights it is clear that there is a lack of awareness of the help and financial support that could be available to households.
“I would therefore urge anyone who is struggling to heat their home to check what support could be available whether that be through directly contacting their energy supplier or seeking information from the many excellent campaigns such as the ‘No Cold Homes’ campaign.”
The Turn2us ‘No Cold Homes’ campaign is seeking to help more people who are unable to afford to heat their homes this winter.
The charity is encouraging anyone in financial hardship to use its free online service to see if they are eligible for welfare benefits, charitable grants and other support – additional income which could help them manage their energy costs over the colder months.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us said: “Our research paints a startling picture, revealing the extent to which households are struggling to heat their homes, even though they’re in work. It is clear that more needs to be done to help raise awareness of the financial support and other help available to people on low incomes to help them manage their energy costs.
“We know that this is an issue that affects a wide range of people, and alongside working households, many others will suffer this winter. We believe that no one should have to live in a cold home. Through our campaign, we urge anyone struggling to check what support could be available.”
The campaign will run from 18 November to 16 December 2015. As part of the campaign, Turn2us is hosting an online celebrity clothes auction (30 November – 9 December) to raise awareness of people’s struggles to heat their homes, and funds to help more people affected.
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