The impact of fuel poverty in 2021 is severe and all encompassing. With the cost of gas and electric rising dramatically this year it leaves thousands unable to even make the choice between heating and eating because they can afford neither.
The reduction in Universal Credit payments and benefit levels not rising enough with inflation leaves thousands in despair, living in cold and often dark housing. Poor households being hit by a “double whammy” of energy price increases and benefit cuts at the same time.
We’ve got a saying here in the north west of England, a saying that Peter Kay made famous, but it’s one that many of us say every day. ‘Turn the big light off’ and also ‘Shut the door you’re letting the cold in’. Whilst these were said in jest, many a joke comes from the harsh reality of life.
Thousands of parents, working and not working will be worrying about how they’ll feed their children and keep them warm, when they shouldn’t have to make that choice at all.
On top of this stay at home rules caused by the pandemic have cost some households at least an extra £45 per month more in increased heating and electricity bills. I say at least because this cost will now increase because of energy cost increases.
This means that the numbers of people, many not previously in fuel poverty are forced to make the stark choice between heating and eating.
Recently, Citizens Advice estimated that an extra 600,000 households had fallen into fuel poverty due to previous lockdowns and separate figures also show millions of people are already way behind on their fuel bills.
An additional concern is that fuel poverty can make respiratory illnesses worse meaning conditions such as Covid and long term health conditions are exacerbated by being forced to live in cold damp homes. This is a concern that disabled and ill people have had for a long time now, but the government are refusing to even address this, let alone help.
While the long term solution to ending fuel poverty is more energy efficient buildings and programmes such as the Government’s Green Homes Grant will help to facilitate this, there is a real urgent need for immediate energy debt relief for millions of families immediately.
Whilst we are made aware of the amount of people that have died as a result of Covid 19, the public are rarely kept informed about the excess winter deaths in England and Wales .
Since 2000, excess winter deaths in England and Wales had remained generally at around 25,000. It is estimated that around 10% of these deaths were caused directly by fuel poverty. This is a large amount of people dying as a result of being cold which I fear will become much higher due to the recent energy price increases.
To give you an example my electric is now costing me £90 a month compared to the previous cost being approximately £50, and my gas charges have risen to at least £100 compared to approximately £60. I, like so many others try to keep costs down as much as possible.
Please read my previous blog detailing my energy saving techniques.
To add to this, most people living in fuel poverty are dependant upon pay as you go energy due to previous energy debts, or having the meters already being in their home and are unable to change them.
Paying back energy debt on pre paid meters is incredibly expensive even before the price rises. Those in this position will no longer be able to afford to heat their homes because the price is too high. Once your credit has gone, its gone leaving people forced to live in cold homes,
In an idea world, the government would have stepped in to challenge the price increases and to also help the public to cope with the cost increases.
Meanwhile the prime ministers has parties in number 10 ignoring the quarantine rules and carry on as though nothing has happened and nothing has changed. One rule for them and another for us as par the norm.
If you live in the Greater Manchester area and you’d like to get involved please join https:\\manchesterdpac.com You will find likeminded people and will be given opportunities to join in activities that they are doing.
Unite Community is a trade union organisation created for those that aren’t working. It’s well worth joining however there is a small payment to join. They offer help, advice and even training. You can join them over at http:\\join.unitetheunion.org
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