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This report highlights the pervasive impact of escalating fuel costs on the poorest families who are spending £442 less than they need to keep their homes heated to an adequate standard of warmth. The report makes a number of recommendations and urges the UK Government and the Welsh Assembly to work with Ofgem and the 'big six' energy companies to address the issue of fuel poverty through a number of measures which include making sure that all customers, including those on pre-payment meters, are on the lowest tariffs.
The report is based on a survey of Barnardo's services in England and highlights the adverse impact of living in fuel poverty on families and young people. The survey findings show that over 90% of families were cutting back financially on essentials, such as food, to pay for higher energy bills and 94% reported that escalating fuel costs were impacting negatively on their mental health. Analysis for the report shows that the poorest families are spending £442 less then they need to keep their homes heated to an adequate standard of warmth. Poor families are more likely to use pre-payment meters but they end up paying a premium this can add around £80 per year to energy bills for the average user. 'Priced Out' makes a number of recommendations which include a call to energy companies to bring pricing for pre-payment meters in line with other methods of payment such as direct debit (as has happened in Northern Ireland) and that they take responsibility for ensuring that customers on low incomes or those in debt are on the lowest possible tariffs regardless of payment method. The report also calls on the UK Government to bring forward the requirement on private landlords to make their homes energy efficient and replicate the Welsh Assembly Government's approach by including a specific fuel poverty target in its strategy to end child poverty by 2020. The focus of 'Priced Out' is on England and Wales; Scotland and Northern Ireland will be publishing reports on fuel poverty later this year.
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