'Action is needed' to help poorer people pay their energy bills

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Urgent steps need to be taken by the government to help those struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The recent cold weather in the UK has refocused attention on vulnerable groups and people living in fuel poverty, which is defined as when a household spends ten per cent of their income or more on energy.

According to the IPPR, research shows the current measures in place are not 'adequately addressing the problem' and emergency measures should be put in place for low income groups.

Estimates from the National Housing Federation suggest that seven million households in the UK are living in fuel poverty.

Lisa Harker, co-director of the IPPR, said: "The recession means there is less money around to reduce fuel poverty, and at the same time energy prices are going up...We need a new, far-sighted fuel poverty strategy."

She added that the strategy should focus on renewable energy and "wealthier households pay[ing] their fair share".

The IPPR predicts that rising energy prices, lower incomes and poor energy efficiency and heating standards in the UK's housing stock will contribute to higher gas and electricity bulls in the future.

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