The charity, which provides emergency financial support to people in fuel crisis, said it has seen a significant increase in demand for its services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. On average, the number of people seeking help has risen 23 per cent across its Fuel Bank centres, with some centres seeing an increase in demand of more than 300 per cent.
One of the main reasons for the spike is the amount of time people are spending at home as a result of the national lockdown restrictions, increasing gas and electricity usage and placing additional demand on household budgets.
A survey of people who have turned to Fuel Bank Foundation for help found that 89 per cent are currently struggling to top up their gas and/or electricity meters, with 81 per cent struggling with household bills, mainly food and water.
Of those surveyed, 82 per cent said the pandemic and national lockdowns had made them more worried about running out of money to pay for energy. Families with children are significantly more likely to worry (92 per cent) than those without (72 per cent).
For people in fuel crisis, prioritising household budgets and rationing gas and electricity is a regular occurrence. Almost all (96 per cent) of survey respondents have had to make the choice between topping up their meter and buying food for their family, with 60 per cent having to make that choice on a daily or weekly basis.
Ninety-one per cent said they have had to ration heating and hot water, while 80 per cent have had to make the sacrifice between having a cooked meal and relying on cold food instead.
Fuel Bank Foundation’s Fuel Crisis Report also highlights the different circumstances that led people to seek financial support, including using emergency credit on their meter, borrowing money from friends and family to keep their meter running and running out of gas and electricity, causing meters to be switched off.