Britain is facing a fuel poverty crisis as seven million households expect to be plunged into energy debt by the end of the winter lockdown.
Some of the country’s most vulnerable families have been hardest-hit as swathes of people work from home and children remain off school – causing bills to rocket by up to £45 a month.
Charities are calling for the Government to come up with a package of rescue measures for families, many of whom already faced poverty before the pandemic.
Last night Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of campaigning charity National Energy Action, said:
Some parents are so desperate they are debating sending their kids to their unvaccinated grandparents home for a bit of warmth.”
Action for Children – which found 37 per cent of families face financial hardship in lockdown – said staff are seeing “the worst poverty levels they can remember.”
Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns, said:
We’re seeing mums and dad home schooling in the cold as they can’t afford to top up the meter, skipping meals to feed their children and asking us for winter clothing and food parcels.”
The End Fuel Poverty Coalition said figures show 3.7 million households in England alone were in energy debt before the pandemic with the average amount owed £760 for electricity and £605 for gas.
A December report from Citizens Advice revealed more than 600,000 had fallen into debt since the start of the pandemic in February – and that seven million people expect to be behind in their post-winter bills.
And now every home will face a pay hike of between £17 and £45 a month, according to research by Nottingham Trent University.