Published on 27 Feb 2013 Sections

Number of children in fuel poverty rises to 1.6 million

The number of UK children living in fuel poverty rises to 1.6 million – a 9 per cent increase over three years – according to new research, which comes as British Gas announces an 11 per cent profit.

Since 2010, there are 130,000 more children living in homes which their carers cannot afford to properly, according to research by the fuel poverty alliance Energy Bill Revolution.

In England alone, the figures now stands at 1.2 million children.

The campaign accompanying the study claims that children living in cold homes are twice as likely to suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems compared with those whose families can afford to keep the house warm.

The research comes as British Gas announced an 11 per cent profit to £606m in its residential division last year. The parent company, Centrica, said colder weather resulted in customers using more gas.

But it came under criticism for raising prices for consumers last year.

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The Energy Bill Revolution said there was enough carbon tax revenue to deliver energy efficiency measures to more than half a million fuel-poor homes every year.

The coalition claims its proposed improvements to energy efficiency would cut the bill of the average fuel-poor household by more than £300 every year, bringing nine out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty.

Energy Bill Revolution director Ed Matthew said:

“Fuel poverty is a nationwide scandal that is forcing some families to make the desperate choice between heating their home or feeding their family this winter.

“The only permanent solution to the fuel poverty crisis is for the government to invest in a nationwide programme of super-insulation funded by carbon tax, which could end fuel poverty once and for all.”


Barnardo’s assistant director of policy and research, Neera Sharma, called on the government to tackle the “crisis”.

“It’s a disgrace that not only has so little action been taken to bring down energy bills, but nothing is being done to stop them rising further for the UK’s poorest families,” she said.

Read more from FactCheck: Cameron cooks up a porky on the gas ring

However the Department for Energy and Climate Change said that the government can’t control “volatile world energy prices” but are working to keep bills down through schemes already in place:

“Energy policies are already benefiting from direct funding from the Exchequer, including the £1bn for carbon capture and storage, £860m for the renewable heat incentive, which will also help households that are off the gas grid, and £200 million in Green Deal incentives.”

Read more from FactCheck: Cameron cooks up a porky on the gas ring