Over 9 million could be living in fuel poverty by 2016

Campaigners call on the Government to give £4bn of carbon tax revenue to homes most at need

More than nine million households will be living in fuel poverty within four years unless the Government directs £4bn a year from carbon taxes to families in greatest need, campaigners warn.

Click here to see the 'Burning money: The rise of fuel poverty' graphic

More Britons die every year from living in a cold home than on the roads, they said, with the situation expected to worsen sharply because of soaring utility bills.

A new study has revealed that there are a million more households already living in fuel poverty compared with previous estimates, taking the total to 6.4 million. The study, by energy efficiency experts Camco, suggests that the total will hit 9.1 million by 2016.

Mike O'Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus, said: "It is a harsh truth that an effective strategy to transform the energy efficiency of our homes and to tackle growing numbers in fuel poverty will need far greater ambition and resources. Billions of pounds will go directly from our energy bills to the Exchequer as part of schemes to cut carbon emissions. That money could reap a double benefit if it was directed to reduce massively our wasteful consumption of energy."

The campaign, called the Energy Bill Revolution, was created by Transform UK, a not-for-profit organisation.

Ed Matthew, of Transform UK, said: "More people die every year in the UK from living in a cold home than die on our roads. Millions more struggle to make ends meet in the face of high energy bills. This is a national scandal."

Camco reckons that if the Government's annual £4bn revenue were recycled to households to spend on energy efficiency measures, it would be enough to bring nine out of 10 households out of fuel poverty. It could also be used to create 200,000 jobs and quadruple carbon emission cuts compared to the Government's new energy efficiency schemes, it claims.

Mr Matthew said that if carbon revenue – from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and Carbon Floor Price – were recycled back to households to spend on energy efficiency measures, it could be used to help all households or used to support the most vulnerable.

"It could provide, for example, an average grant of £6,500 to make 600,000 fuel-poor homes highly energy efficient every year," he said.

"This would bring down their energy bills each year by £310 and remove nine out of 10 homes from fuel poverty in 15 years. The rest would have their homes brought up to the energy efficiency standard of a home built today."

A petition is being launched today at www.energybillrevolution.org to raise support for the Energy Bill Revolution campaign. It is already backed by more than 50 charities, unions, consumer groups and businesses, including Save the Children, the National Pensioners' Convention, Consumer Focus and the Co-operative Group.

Paul Monaghan, head of social goals at the Co-operative, said: "The UK can get to grips with fuel poverty and not only keep carbon emissions reducing, but secure increased buy-in from the general public. Right now the elderly and poor suffer the most, but left unchecked this is going to become an issue for everyday families."

Last week the children's charity Barnardo's said rising energy prices have left the poorest families £450 short of being able to adequately heat their homes. Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "We need to get serious about tackling fuel poverty. Families should never have to choose between whether to heat their homes or put food on the table for children."

She said poorer families are most hit by energy companies because they use pre-payment meters to pay off debt and to pay for gas and electricity.

"Effectively these families are being penalised by their payment method at a time when they need the most financial help," she said. "Energy companies have a moral duty to behave responsibly by ensuring that the poorest families are on the lowest tariffs available and that prices for pre-payment meters are brought down to the same rates as online tariffs."

She urged the Government to tackle fuel poverty by bringing forward the requirement on landlords to make their properties energy efficient for tenants.

Case study: 'I worried about the kids' health'

Lesley Perry lives with her husband Matthew and their five children in a large, high-ceilinged property in Bournemouth. It seemed like a "God-send" when they moved in, amid a shortage of council homes, but they were soon crippled with fuel poverty. The family are currently being supported by a Barnardo's children's centre.


I made curtains to try and keep the warm in as the windows didn't have double glazing – only shutters. I bought cold excluders for the doors too, but it was still cold. I started noticing damp patches appearing on the walls. I was worried about the health of the kids and our finances were really dwindling. The children's needs will always be our priority. We won't go out in the car for days because the petrol's too expensive, but that means we stay in and have to have the heating on. It's a vicious circle and we just go without if we have to.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine