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Fuel poverty is rising: here’s what you can do

Find my Borough

National Energy Action and Energy Action Scotland recently published their Fuel Poverty Monitor, a “state of the nations” report on fuel poverty across the UK and in each individual country.

It doesn’t make for cheerful reading. Here’s a quote:

Whilst the timeline illustrates many positive intentions and the introduction of a range of initiatives and new statutory responsibilities, 15 years on, an estimated 4.5 million low-income households across the UK still cannot adequately heat and power their homes. Over the last five years alone there are now over 500,000 more fuel poor households living in cold homes.

And here’s the picture that speaks a thousand words:


That blue trend line is important here. It’s not actually a trend line. It’s the price of fuel for you and I. It’s gone inexorably up – apart from 2010 – and so has fuel poverty. This despite significant ongoing investment in energy efficiency (at least until 2013/14) and behavioural changes at home in response to rising prices.

So what are we going do about these numbers? Here are three practical things:

  • If you know anyone who might be struggling to pay their bills or keep warm – whether it’s your elderly neighbour who doesn’t go out much or a relative with a new baby spending more time at home – tell them it’s OK and that they’re not alone. Almost 1 in 5 households in the UK is in the same boat.
  • Check the London Fuel Poverty Hub Directory to see if there’s a local support service (or ring your local Council). There might be financial support, or help with a new boiler or insulation that could really help someone keep warm.
  • Point them in the direction of a tariff switching service, like USwitch or MoneySupermarket. It could be a free way for them to save some money on their bills. Local charities can often help with the process if someone doesn’t have internet access or may struggle to provide information over the phone.

Sometimes we get so caught up in expecting policy to fix social problems that we might forget the things that we can do to help. Letting someone know you’re there for them can lift their anxieties, and suggesting things that might help is practical and positive. And if you feel embarrassed talking to friends or neighbours about this, don’t be. If we don’t talk about issues of inequality, social justice, poverty or struggle, nothing will ever change.

Thanks for reading, and for supporting the London Fuel Poverty Hub. Please share this post through social media; we’re @LDNFuelPoverty on Twitter.


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