Fewer families facing fuel poverty?

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fuel poverty fallingSadly for many families the cost of keeping our homes warm has become a constant worry. But new figures suggest that the number of households facing fuel poverty may have finally started to fall.

Statistics show that 4.75 million homes were in fuel poverty in 2010, down from 5.5 million the previous year.

The government claims this was thanks to rising incomes, stable energy prices and lower consumption, with thousands of families looking for ways to lower their household bills. But consumer groups warned that recent price increases have made the problem worse again.

In the UK, fuel poverty is said to occur when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income in order to heat its home to an adequate standard.

Estimates show there could be around 3.5 million fuel-poor households in England recorded for 2011, with the forecast likely to reach 3.9 million in 2012.

And with the next figures not due to be published until 2013, campaigners have urged ministers not to underestimate the current situation as many families struggle to afford their energy bills.

Consumer Focus said: "Millions of families, older people and disabled people, living on low incomes, will be facing tough daily decisions on what essentials they cut back on to make ends meet. Current Government plans are not sufficient to tackle the scale of this problem."

The latest figures have been published in the 2012 Annual Report on Fuel Poverty by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker said: "I am encouraged by the fall in fuel poverty in the period to April 2011, but there is no room for complacency.

"People can still get help with heating and insulation through Warm Front and around two million households will get money off their energy bills this year through the Warm Home Discount scheme.

"The Green Deal will help people pay for home improvements through savings on their energy bills with extra financial help for the most vulnerable."

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