1 in 4 families forced to choose between heating and eating

January 6th, 2013

A quarter of mums have had to choose food over heating thanks to spiralling energy bills, a survey reveals today.


An alarming 23 per cent say they faced the desperate choice this winter.


The poll also reveals that eight out of ten families are rationing warmth in their homes – in the first signs that sky high heating bills are causing a national heating crisis.


Of those, nine out of ten are wearing extra clothes instead of turning on the heating, 56% turn it off altogether when the kids are out and 45% are wrapping up in a duvet or blankets during the day.


One third are going to bed early to cut energy costs or wearing two layers of clothes in bed just to keep warm.


Today campaigners call on ministers to solve Britain’s fuel poverty crisis once and for all by super-insulating millions of homes nationwide.


The Energy Bill Revolution campaign wants the government to use money raised in Carbon Tax to super-insulate homes across the country, cutting over £300 from the average family’s fuel bill.


Supporters are urged to sign a petition at www.energybillrevolution.org calling on the Chancellor to act.


This would end fuel poverty once and for all, help tackle the climate change crisis and provide a major boost for the economy.


A study by Cambridge Econometrics conducted for the campaign reveals 100,000 new construction jobs would be created if the Chancellor earmarked the Carbon Tax funds for super-insulation.


Today’s poll of 1,000 members of parenting website Netmums found that 88% of families are more worried about their winter bills this year than last year.


One in three say they are “very stressed” as a result.


Many are also worried about the impacts on their children’s health, with 1 in 5 saying they believe their children are ill more often as a result of living in colder homes.


Ed Matthew, Director of the Energy Bill Revolution, said:


“This survey shows that we are facing a national energy bill crisis. We call ourselves a developed country but no one should have to make the choice between feeding their family and heating their home. But there is a solution.  By recycling carbon revenue to make homes super-energy efficient we can end the fuel poverty scandal once and for all. It is time for the Government to get a grip on this crisis and recognise that fully insulating UK homes is the best way to drive down energy bills.”


Netmums founder Sally Russell said:


“The figures contained in this study are simply shocking. The news that almost a quarter of families are being forced to choose between heating and eating should send shockwaves through UK society. These are impossible choices for families to make as both are essential to good health and children’s safety and security. And with almost nine in ten families now rationing their energy use due to spiralling prices, this signals a new winter of discontent for British families.”


Official DECC predictions on rising energy costs suggest the number of households suffering fuel poverty could rise to nine million by 2016, affecting one in three households.


It is currently experienced by one in four households.


Fuel poverty exists where someone spends more than 10% of their income on paying their energy bills.


On average, at least 7,800 people die every year from living in cold homes.


Domestic fuel bills have risen by an average of eight per cent this winter. This means families are bracing themselves for annual bills of over £1,300, with gas prices predicted to continue rising.


The UK’s homes are amongst the worst insulated in Europe, outperformed by countries with similar climates such as France and Germany.


The Energy Bill Revolution campaign proposes a comprehensive programme of modifications, insulating walls, floors, roofs, doors, and windows, which could save families over £300 every year on their fuel bills.


The investment will benefit the economy as well as cutting household bills – a recent study by Cambridge Econometrics found that the plans could create up to 100,000 jobs – more than any comparable Government spending programme or tax break.


No new taxes or additional charges on energy bills would be required to pay for super-insulation.


The project would be entirely financed through the Carbon Tax which is levied on energy companies for their carbon emissions and ends up on consumer energy bills. It is expected to raise for the Exchequer £2.7billion in 2013, rising to £6.8billion in 2027.


The super-insulation plans proposed by the Energy Bill Revolution are far more ambitious in scale than Government schemes such as the Green Deal or the Energy Companies Obligation, which on their own will not halt the rise of fuel poverty in the UK.


Super-insulation could help over half a million homes each year, end fuel poverty, and in time benefit every home in the country.


Super-insulation involves wholesale conversion of homes including loft, walls, windows, doors and floors.





MPs supporting the campaign
The only permanent solution to drive down energy bills and end fuel poverty.