One in three homes in 120-day countdown to fuel poverty | The Sun

One in three households in England and Wales are on a 120-day countdown to colder weather knowing they will not be able to afford the heat they need this winter, a study has found.

The fuel poverty report has revealed nine million households are at risk of going without the heat they need this coming winter, unless government intervenes with direct energy support for affected households.

Experts analysed the energy behaviours of 51,205 financially vulnerable households during the last two winters to understand the actual size of the fuel poverty gap.

Based on an expected £1,850 price cap on October 1, it revealed the lowest income households need an extra £593 to afford the heat to stay warm and well this winter.

In response, smart Pay As You Go energy supplier Utilita, which created the report with fuel poverty experts from the University of Oxford, is calling for the government to announce direct financial assistance to help fuel poor households before the weather starts to change.

Bill Bullen, CEO and founder at the energy supplier, said: “The government must not allow one in three households to agonise about the winter ahead, with no guarantee of any financial assistance.

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“Low-income households are less resilient than ever and are already self-rationing both energy and food for fear of what’s ahead.

“Around six in 10 fuel poor households pay by direct debit, and half of these won’t be smart-enabled, meaning they will be self-rationing and going without – all under the radar of those who can support them – with Smart PAYG we can see our customers’ behaviours and intervene when necessary.”

According to the data, last winter’s £400 Energy Bill Support credits cut self-disconnections for Smart PAYG households by half.

And for every £1 spent on reducing fuel poverty, 42p in savings are realised by the NHS – meaning for every £593 direct energy credit provided to alleviate fuel poverty, the National Health Service would save £250 each year.

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The insights also revealed October 24 is the official ‘heating switch on day’ for most households in England and Wales, but can be as early as mid-August in Scotland, with the outside temperature trigger for home heating being 12.5 degrees Celsius.

Bill Bullen added: “With 92 per cent of Utilita’s households being smart-enabled, we are able to keep a close eye on those with vulnerabilities and help them out when they need it most.

"Since autumn 2021, we have helped our customers afford more than £100m of energy when they have been unable to make ends meet.”

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