Comparison website uSWitch.com has found that 5.4 million people in the UK are now living in fuel poverty, compared to four million at the beginning of the year, revealing the true cost of the energy price rises to the British consumer.
The study found that almost a third of pensioner households are in fuel poverty – defined as a household spending at least 10 per cent of its income on fuel bills
– but so too are 20 per cent of families that have only one income, and 17 per cent of single person working households.
Brits have seen their energy bills rise by an average £380 this year, 40 per cent more than last year, adding £4.3billion to the total UK household energy bill in just eight months.
What's more, industry experts predict further price rises of at least 14 per cent in 2009, pushing the average household's fuel bill up to £1,467 in the first few months of next year.
"Today's figures have further highlighted the struggle that many people face when paying their fuel bills." Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said. "2008 is set to be remembered as the year Britain was crippled by inflation, soaring fuel bills and the rampant growth of fuel poverty."
Ms Robinson stressed that "We cannot underestimate the impact that higher household energy prices will have on consumers - for many it will involve a complete shift in attitude and behaviour. People need to adjust quickly and there are two key steps to this - making sure we pay the lowest possible price for our energy and learning to use less of it."
Consumers can compare energy prices
and switch energy provider
to help stave off the rising cost of gas and electricity.
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