Number of fuel-poor homes up to 4.5m

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Indy Politics

The number of UK households living in fuel poverty rose again in the face of rising energy prices, to stand at 4.5 million in 2008, the latest figures showed today.

An extra half a million households had to spend more than 10% of their income on heating their homes to a decent standard in 2008, the Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics showed.

And the number of fuel-poor households in England increased from 2.8 million in 2007 to 3.3 million in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available.

The figures showed "vulnerable" households - around three-quarters of homes in the UK - were being hit by fuel price rises.

The number of homes with elderly people, children or someone who has long-term illness or disability suffering from fuel poverty rose by half a million in 2008, to 3.75 million across the UK.

There were 2.7 million households struggling with disproportionately high fuel bills in England that year.

Projections for England alone suggest there were likely to be around 4.1 million fuel poor homes in the country in 2009, but there would be a slight fall in 2010 to leave a total of four million households in fuel poverty.

The decrease is likely to occur because of falling energy prices and improvements in home insulation and energy efficiency.

The figures have been climbing since 2004, despite Government pledges to halt the problem, in the face of spiralling fuel bills which have risen on average by 80% between 2004 and 2008, the Decc figures revealed.

But the department said rising incomes and improvements in energy efficiency in houses were preventing households becoming fuel-poor and in some cases had lifted them out of fuel poverty.

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: "Today's statistics show that we must do more to help those living in fuel poverty as it's clear the old policies alone are not working effectively.

"That's why the coalition Government has already made energy companies insulate more of the homes of the most vulnerable customers.

"We will go further by targeting assistance at those most in need, promoting energy-saving measures and greater competition in the energy market to ensure that falling wholesale energy prices get passed on to customers.

"We remain committed to doing all that is reasonably practicable to eradicate fuel poverty in all households in England by 2016."