uSwitch Releases Advice for 3.4 Million UK Households in Fuel Poverty
New research from uSwitch reveals millions of UK households will have to choose between buying food and paying for heating this winter.
Released just before Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on November 29th, the data reveals a shocking reality which many in the UK are unaware of. As winter temperatures are predicted to fall again in the next week as millions of households will be unable to pay for home heating.
While the research found 3.4 millions households will be living below the fuel poverty line, it also revealed that 1.6 million of those will be forced to choose between heating and eating with some of the worst affected living in Plymouth, Norwich and Sheffield. More than a third of households are concerned about paying energy bills over the winter season and 4.6 million reported that they would not turn their heating on even in the cold.
In an effort to help, uSwitch has published the following advice for households and for installers to pass on where they can.
- Look into government grants which are available to support certain vulnerable groups in paying their heating bills or improving insulation such as the £140 Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Allowance and Cold Weather Payment.
- Your energy supplier may run programmes intended to support customers who are struggling. Households in debt and which have a prepayment meter can often switch supplier if they owe less than £500.
- The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free service provided by suppliers and network operators for people with additional needs. It offers benefits such as advance notice of planned power cuts, priority support in an emergency, or help with communication about bills.
Head of regulation at uSwitch.com, Richard Neudegg, said:
"It is a terrifying prospect to have to choose between putting your heating on this winter or feeding yourself and your family.
"Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is crucially important in the fight to help those who can't afford to keep their homes warm enough. Help is available and people shouldn't feel like they need to suffer in silence.
"The first thing many energy customers should do is check whether they're eligible for help with their bills, and contact their supplier to make sure they're on the cheapest plan - and if they're in any debt to the company, to ask them to arrange a repayment plan.
"In the meantime, we want to see the industry required to provide more support, targeted specifically to help vulnerable households, with anyone who is eligible for help being enrolled automatically."