Action Urged On Fuel Poverty

Almost six in 10 consumers have already cut back or plan to ration their heating to reduce bills this winter, a survey has found.

Some 57% of people in 15 million homes plan to cut back on heating while 36% of those who did so last year said it affected their health and well-being, the poll for comparison site uSwitch.com found.

USwitch said "hard-pressed'' consumers were making sacrifices in order to cope with high bills as they waited for energy companies to pass on steady drops in wholesale prices in recent months.

Almost a quarter (24%) of consumers said the rising cost of energy had substantially affected their disposable income and 63% expect prices to go up in the coming months, the survey found.

The average UK home is set to spend #1,265 on energy over the course of this year - £53 more than last year and £271 more than three years ago.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said: "In this day and age it's shocking to see so many being forced to go without heating and risk their health, simply to cope with high energy bills.

"With the average bill now an eye-watering #1,265 - 168% higher than 10 years ago - it's little wonder that energy costs top consumers' concerns.

"Wholesale energy prices have been falling for a long time now and it's high time for the big six suppliers to pass on these reductions to hard-pressed consumers, who will be going cold because they simply can't afford to keep the heating on.

"Consumers do have a choice, however, and can take control of their energy. Making sure that your home is insulated, draught-proof and taking small actions like making sure appliances aren't left on standby are all simple ways to use less and waste less energy.''

A conference is being held in Aviemore today to discuss how to tackle fuel poverty.

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