Greenest Government Ever: A Third Of British Families Ration Fuel

  • Date: 03/12/12
  • Jamie Doward, The Observer

Soaring fuel bills are leading to acute power rationing among many families as one in four say they are skipping meals to meet fuel costs. The “heat or eat” dilemma is becoming one of the most toxic issues for the coalition as it battles to convince the public it is on their side when it comes to curbing the power of the energy giants.

A new poll of 2,000 people by Onepoll for Ovo Energy reveals that over a third of homes are rationing power. The energy company claims inflation-busting rises of up to 12% have left 70% of British homes forced to limit their power consumption. There are concerns more families are at an increased risk of becoming ill as a result of switching off their heating.

Ovo’s research suggests one in ten families have already defaulted on their energy bills, while a further 14.5% claim they will be unable to pay this winter. Over a fifth of families have even begun wearing outdoor clothing such as hats, coats and scarves indoors to keep warm, along with over a quarter who drape themselves in blankets to avoid turning on the heating.

The latest figures show the average dual fuel power bill has now hit a record £1,318 prompting families to cut back. A quarter – 23.7% – of the 2,000 people polled said they had been forced to ration food in order to meet the costs of their energy bills. And almost one in 10 admitted they could no longer afford to buy Christmas gifts for their family.

One in 13 people said they had begun to get into debt to meet their energy bills, with no long-term plan to pay it back.

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