Brown proposes energy help for fuel poor

04 August 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
As energy companies British Gas and EDF Energy report gas and electricity price hikes, Gordon Brown is beginning to feel the pressure as more Brits are threatened with fuel poverty.

Price hikes of as much as 35 per cent (British Gas) are set to hit Brits just in time for the winter months, and Brown is eager to step in before angering further members of the public.

According to reports, Brown is currently working with energy companies in an effort to come up with an agreement whereby the fuel poor are protected by money supplied from the energy companies. However, contrary to previous reports it is thought that Brown will stop short of imposing a windfall tax on the companies' profits.

Instead, the money raising scheme will focus on a carbon emissions reduction target (Cert) which should see the energy companies making efforts to reduce the fuel poors' carbon emissions through the provision of such things as insulation.

Reports suggest that the three year scheme could raise as much as £2.75billion, all earmarked for the aid of those who look set to struggle with energy payments through winter.

Those who have not yet taken steps to switch energy provider to one offering a fixed rate, could face price hikes of as much as 70 per cent by January 2009. It seems that Gordon Brown has recognised the threat that this poses, not only for the elderly struggling with small pension funds but for families finding the increased cost of living too much to cope with.

Defined as a household that spends more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel bills, fuel poverty is becoming a real issue in the UK. According to reports from uSwitch, there are currently 4.5 million Brits living in fuel poverty, and this could see a rise of at least another 1.6 million on the back of energy price hikes.

The fuel poor are already supported by the Government through the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group and the introduction of Warm Front Grants and Winter Fuel Payments, but more needs to be done to stem fuel poverty in the UK.

Newly appointed chair of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, Derek Lickorish, said: "The challenge for the vulnerable consumer this winter to stay warm and well has never been greater. Record gas and electricity prices at present that are set to go even higher this winter demand immediate action to help those in society who are less able to help themselves."

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