The impact this is having on family life is severe, with over two-thirds (69%) of those who struggled with their energy bills last winter experiencing stress as a result, and almost two-fifths (39%) forced to cut back on food or skip meals. Furthermore, if struggling with their energy costs this winter, nearly half (45%) would risk endangering their health and wellbeing by not using their heating at all.
The survey, released to coincide with the launch of Turn2us’ fuel poverty campaign, has also found that over a fifth (22%) of families have gone in to arrears with their energy supplier and just under half (45%) have relied on the financial support of family and friends.
Yet the results show that parents could be unaware of other help available. Despite the grants and schemes offered by many energy companies, almost three-fifths (59%) are not aware that this help exists. In addition, three-quarters (75%) would not consider checking their welfare benefits entitlement if struggling with their energy costs, while 83% would not contemplate checking for support in the form of charitable grants.
In response to these ongoing problems, Turn2us’ third annual fuel poverty campaign is focusing on the growing gap between household incomes and the cost of energy bills, and highlighting the support available to those struggling with their energy bills. The campaign, ‘Mind the Gap’, features six steps, using Turn2us’ free tools and information to help people increase their household income and manage their energy costs. These include checking welfare benefits entitlement, searching for grants and schemes to help with bills, getting help to improve energy efficiency and checking energy tariffs. A dedicated ‘Mind the Gap’ section of the Turn2us website has been created at www.turn2us.org.uk/fuelpoverty.
Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Turn2us launches its winter fuel poverty campaign with the news that more people are worried about finding the money to pay for their energy bills. With the cost of living steadily increasing, people feel like they have no option but to borrow money and cut back on essentials to cover costs. Our research shows that more needs to be done to help raise awareness of the financial support and help available to manage energy bills.
“With our ‘Mind the Gap’ campaign we have brought together a number of free Turn2us tools and information all in one place to help people in financial need maximise their income and manage their energy costs.”
Turn2us is working in partnership with charities and organisations across the UK for its ‘Mind the Gap’ fuel poverty campaign to increase awareness of the support available to those struggling in fuel poverty.
For more information about the campaign, please visit www.turn2us.org.uk/fuelpoverty.