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Chancellor Urged to Act to Help Vulnerable Households

February 20, 2024

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Millions of low-income and vulnerable households in the UK are facing a financial cliff edge, a fuel poverty charity has warned.

Fuel Bank Foundation, which provides crisis support to households that can’t afford to top up their prepayment gas and/or electricity meter, said that without further financial support from the Government to help with energy bills and other household costs, homes on the brink of crisis will be pushed over the edge, with no financial safety net to catch them.

The warning comes as millions of low-income households across the UK are receiving their third and final £299 cost-of-living payment from the Department for Work and Pensions.

These schemes offer a vital lifeline and financial safety net for millions of people in the UK. Without them, I fear the worst for those already struggling to make ends meet.
Matt Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation
Energy bills and interest rates may well be slowly coming down, but despite what Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thinks, the burden on hard-pressed households is far from easing. In fact, our own experience suggests it’s getting worse.
Matt Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation

On 31 March, the Government’s Household Support Fund will also come to an end. The fund was set up in 2021 to provide support directly to those who need it the most. Help could be in the form of vouchers to cover the cost of food and utilities or free school meals during the holidays.

Neither the cost-of-living payments or Household Support Fund are set to be renewed by the Government.

Matthew Cole, head of Fuel Bank Foundation, called on the Chancellor to do more to help those most in need. He said:

We have one main ask for Mr Hunt in his Spring Statement and that’s to announce a package of further financial support to fill the void left by the cost-of-living and household support fund payments coming to an end. More specifically, we want to see more crisis energy support provided to help with fuel bills, which remain stubbornly high.
Matt Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation

In January, Fuel Bank Foundation recorded the highest number of people it has ever helped in just one week, with 21,600 turning to it for support. The charity also revealed it is spending nearly £1 million a week in fuel vouchers to help people stay warm.

In 2023, Fuel Bank Foundation helped nearly 640,000 people across the UK, an 85% increase on the previous year. This year, it is forecasting a further 26% increase.

Mr Cole said:

The cost of living and fuel poverty crisis isn’t getting easier, nor is it going away. The Government needs to wake up. We urge the Chancellor to heed ours and other charities’ calls to take action to provide the financial support millions of low-income and vulnerable households desperately need.
Matt Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation