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Charities urge PM and Chancellor to end the energy bill crisis

Save the Children, Age UK, End Fuel Poverty Coalition and more warn rising costs push millions more households into fuel poverty

AN ALLIANCE of charities has urged the government to tackle the energy bill crisis that is set to push millions more households into fuel poverty.

The 27 charities, which include Save the Children, Age UK and the End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC), are calling for emergency funding to support the most vulnerable facing rising heating costs.

They are also calling for insulation and clean energy funding to be increased to help wean Britain off expensive gas, which is harming the environment.

Without urgent action the energy price cap could be increased by £600 in April, driven by surging gas prices on the international markets, taking an average energy bill to around £2,000.

The charities estimate that fuel poverty could increase by 50 per cent, from four to six million households across Britain.

They fear that this will lead to households choosing between heating and eating, an increase in the number of people dying in cold homes and a greater burden on the already strained NHS.

The charities are reminding PM Boris Johnson that a cut in support for making homes energy efficient after the last surge in bills in 2013 left households far more vulnerable to soaring gas prices.

As a result of the Energy Company Obligation levy being cut in half and the Warm Front programme for the fuel poor being abolished, millions of British homes have not been insulated. 

The cuts led to a 90 per cent cut in loft and cavity wall insulation measures and half of those in the industry lost their jobs.

The charities warn that insulation rates have still not recovered, and those mistakes must not be repeated.

In their letter, the charities said emergency support for the most vulnerable should be funded in part by a windfall tax on the fossil fuel industry.

EFPC representative Simon Francis said: “After years of tireless campaigning by health, anti-poverty and environmental charities, trade unions and researchers, politicians are finally waking up to the tragedy of fuel poverty in the country.

“Fuel poverty is a public health and social crisis but can only be solved by economic measures and the government must do everything possible to help people in crisis now while investing in energy efficiency programmes to fix the long-term problems.”

Labour MP Richard Burgon told the Star: “It is astonishing that in the fifth biggest economy on Earth, six million people will soon be in fuel poverty.

“Yet we have the sickening sight of fossil fuel bosses bragging that high prices mean their companies are making so much money they are like ‘cash machines’.

“No-one should be forced to choose between heating and eating. We need to urgently impose a big windfall tax on these fossil fuel companies and use the billions raised to end fuel poverty once and for all.”

And Labour MP Jon Trickett said: “Tory energy policy is driven by pro-market policies which reward business owners and executives, but which punish the most vulnerable and the elderly who often live in the least insulated homes.

“Immediate action is required now, followed by determined action to put social justice and the needs of the planet as our priorities.”

A government spokesperson said: “We recognise people are facing pressures with the cost of living, which is why we are taking action worth more than £4.2bn and supporting vulnerable households through initiatives such as the £500m Household Support Fund and Warm Home Discount.”

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