Government failing poor over fuel poverty

The UK Government has been accused of failing poor families and pensioners over fuel poverty amid calls for urgent action to tackle the problem.

A coalition of campaign groups said the average energy bill tipped the vast majority of single pensioners and lone-parent families entitled to basic state benefits into fuel poverty, affecting almost one in five households, or 4.5 million people.

The average fuel bill for 65 to 74-year-olds had leapt up to £1,000, a rise of 15 per cent for a single pensioner, said Age Concern, the Child Poverty Action Group and National Energy Action.

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. The Government's fuel poverty strategy is in disarray - ministers must pledge fresh action at tomorrow's summit."

Paul Dornan, head of policy for the 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.

Image: The rising cost of energy is leaving millions out in the cold

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