Energy bills too much for 1 in 4 turning down the heat

Energy bills too much for 1 in 4 turning down the heat

07 January 2010 / by Rachael Stiles

What promises to be the coldest winter in Britain for 30 years is proving too expensive for a quarter of Brits, who are turning the heating down instead of up to cope with their energy bills.

According to research from the housing and homelessness charity Shelter, the cost of housing is forcing one in four people in the UK to reduce the amount they spend on heating their homes.

Shelter has concluded from the survey that rent and mortgage payments are causing people to change the way they live, to spend less on energy bills to help them keep up with other costs.

This has resulted in more than 1.4 million children living in households with reduced heating, Shelter said.

The charity is concerned about the number of vulnerable people such as children and the elderly being put at additional risk by not being able to stay warm during the winter months, which led to 37,000 deaths in England and Wales last winter.

Kay Boycott, director of policy and campaigns at Shelter, said it is "shocking" that people are having to put their lives at risk by being forced to choose between keeping their homes or keeping warm.

"While we often associate older people as being particularly affected by this issue, these figures show that almost one and a half million children could be freezing in their homes because their parents are struggling to pay unacceptably high housing costs," she stressed.

"The housing crisis is spiralling out of control and we can no longer ignore the huge repercussions this is having on people's lives. Tackling the lack of affordable housing in Britain must be a priority for all political parties and a key election issue for us all."

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