Gordon Brown warns 3.5 million homes of fuel poverty this winter | Fuel poverty
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown demanded new financial support from the government for households struggling to pay their energy bills, warning that nearly a million more households would be in fuel poverty this winter.
Poor households have been hit by a “double whammy” of increases in energy prices and cuts in benefits, Brown said, and described the recent announcement of a new financial aid fund of $ 500. million pounds as a cynical cabinet ploy.
Brown, who made the benefit system more generous when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1997 and 2007, has called on his Tory successor Rishi Sunak to drop this week’s £ 20 cut to universal credit.
Citing research from two York University academics, Professor Jonathan Bradshaw and Dr Antonia Keung, Brown said hundreds of thousands of families would be unable to pay their energy bills in the months to come, or not. could only do so by not having enough food.
York University research has shown that there are currently just over 2.5 million fuel-poor households, a situation in which more than 10% of net income is spent on energy bills. Based on an estimate of a 15% cumulative increase in gas and electricity bills over the next year, the study indicated that the number of fuel-poor households would drop to slightly less. of 3.5 million.
Brown said: “These numbers show that poor families are facing the worst winter in decades. After withdrawing £ 6bn and returning just £ 500m with the new fund, they are proposing to replace the reduction of £ 20 per week with £ 1.66, knowing that it is immediately wiped out twice per week. rising fuel bills.
A higher cap on energy bills went into effect on October 1, with around 15 million households facing a 12% increase in their energy bills. Those on standard tariffs, with typical household energy consumption levels, could see an increase of £ 139 – from £ 1,138 to £ 1,277 per year, while households with above-average energy consumption average would pay more than £ 1,277 per year.
The former chancellor said reducing the universal criedt to its pre-pandemic level was “immoral” at a time when families faced acute pressures on the cost of living.
“I’m surprised how bad the numbers are. They show how many people live on the borderline. 2021 is the worst time to be poor in Britain. Food prices rise, fuel prices rise and benefits are reduced. “