Shedding light on fuel poverty
When the energy price cap rises in April 2022, energy bills for millions of us will inevitably increase. For most, this will cause us to tighten the purse strings, but it also likely to force a significant amount of the population into fuel poverty.
In its simplest form, people in fuel poverty cannot afford to keep their homes warm at a reasonable cost. Towards the end of last year, fuel poverty was estimated to impact over 3 million UK households, and it will only continue to rise this year. The consequences are not just discomfort; for many, fuel poverty can be deadly.
Living in the cold and damp can exacerbate pre-existing health conditions such as those affecting the respiratory and circulatory systems. Charity Scope has said that households with someone with a long-term illness or a disability are 50% more likely to be living in fuel poverty.
But why have so many people fallen into fuel poverty? In 2021, over 11 million people were furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in many households living on just 80% of their regular wages. Losing 20% of their income had a significant impact on many working-class households, pushing them below the poverty line. They may have been unable keep the lights on or have to make the impossible choice between eating and heating.
Not only did UK residents have to deal with a decrease in income, but many also suffered due to the removal of the Universal Credit uplift in October 2021. The cutting of £20 a week has meant some are unable to pay their rent or mortgage, or buy food, as prices increase and bills rise.
The collapses of energy companies and increasing costs are placing a very real financial burden on every household in the country. In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, charities come together to call for urgent action to tackle the energy bill crisis we are all facing. They estimate that fuel poverty could increase by 50% to 6 million households across the UK, prompting fears that even more families will have to choose between keeping warm or filling their children’s bellies.
While looming price increases are an extraordinary hurdle to overcome, some actions can be taken to make your home as energy efficient as possible to try and save some pennies:
Ensure your home is insulated
Change your lightbulbs to energy-efficient LED bulbs
Turn appliances off when you not using
Look at the energy rating of new appliances
Close your doors to keep heat in rooms
Wash your clothes at 30° rather than 40°
If you want to lend your to those affected by fuel poverty, you can do so by donating to charities supporting them through the Toucan app. You can make a one-off donation or regular monthly contributions, as and when you can afford to.