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NASMA supports Acting on Fuel Poverty campaign this winter
- CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES WITH NEW RESEARCH UNCOVERING LACK OF AWARENESS OF SUPPORT FOR FUEL COSTS -
This winter, NASMA is supporting Acting on Fuel Poverty, a campaign hosted by Turn2us, part of national charity Elizabeth Finn Care. The campaign launches with new research which has found that people on low incomes are unaware of the potential support available to help with their fuel bills. This is despite the fact that nearly two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed are uncertain if they can meet these costs this winter without experiencing financial hardship.
Over a third (37%) of people living in low income households* have never checked their eligibility for welfare benefits and tax credits, and over two-fifths (45%) are currently not claiming benefits that they may be entitled to. Claiming benefits entitlements can not only boost income to help pay fuel bills but can also act as a trigger for eligibility from various fuel poverty programmes.
The research also found that over two-thirds (70%) are unaware that energy suppliers have to offer cheaper ‘social tariffs’ to their most vulnerable customers and over two-fifths (43%) are not aware of the government’s Warm Front scheme which provides funding for insulation and heating improvements – despite the fact that they are on a low income and could be eligible for assistance from these schemes. Furthermore, over one in three (36%) have never or can not remember when they last checked they were on the cheapest energy tariff available to them.
These results are particularly worrying in light of the findings that the costs of last winter’s fuel bills caused over two-fifths (44%) to feel stressed, nearly one in seven (14%) to suffer illness or physical pain as a result of cold conditions and over one in eight (13%) to fall behind on their bill payments.
Shockingly, over half (55%) said that if they were struggling to meet their fuel costs, they would resort to switching off their heating altogether or only heating one room at a time and two-fifths (41%) would cut back on other essentials including food, yet only 6% would consider approaching a charity to see if they were eligible for a grant.
The official definition of fuel poverty is where a household has to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain an adequate level of warmth. There are currently an estimated 4.75 million households in fuel poverty in the UK, around three-quarters of which are on a low income**. NASMA is helping Turn2us to highlight the support available to those struggling with their fuel costs this winter.
Turn2us has launched a dedicated campaign microsite at www.fuelpovertymap.org.uk. The microsite directs users to sources of help including the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to work out which welfare benefits and tax credits they might be entitled to, the Turn2us Grants Search database which provides access to over 3,000 charitable funds, information pages on increasing energy efficiency and energy efficiency grants, and a link to the Which? Switch energy tariff comparison tool for users to check they are on the best tariff available to them.
The microsite also includes an interactive fuel poverty map for users to find out, according to the official definition, if they are in fuel poverty and compare different areas across the UK.
Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Our latest research findings show that there is a need for individuals and families to have access to clear information and independent guidance to help them find support with rising energy costs. Our fuel poverty microsite brings together a number of tools which are free to use – all in one place, which can help households identify whether they can maximise their income and reduce their energy costs ahead of the arrival of their winter bills.”
NASMA is one of the organisations Turn2us is working in partnership with throughout the campaign to help increase awareness of the support available for those in fuel poverty and how they can access it.
For more information and interviews with Turn2us case studies or spokespeople, please contact:
Emma Lamberton, Press & Campaigns Officer
Telephone: 0208 834 9259
Example case study
Helen*** worked as a nurse for many years before she had to leave work due to ill health, and on a limited income, she found herself struggling with her household bills. Her house was damp and living in a rural village, Helen would travel to the nearest town library once a week to keep warm for a few hours. It was here that searching on the internet, she came across Turn2us. Helen identified through Turn2us that she was eligible for a charitable grant which paid for the damp in her home to be fixed and gave her some extra money to put towards her bills.
Helen said: “The money I received has been a lifesaver and has had a huge impact on my quality of life. I now live in a warm home and the extra money for bills has really taken some of the pressure off.”
Notes to Editors
- *Adults with gross annual household incomes of £20,000 or less.
- **Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change.
- ***Name has been changed to protect anonymity.
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Research Now. Research was undertaken in September 2012 and total sample size was 1010 adults with gross annual household incomes of £20,000 or less.
- For its Acting on Fuel Poverty 2012 campaign, Turn2us is working in partnership with organisations including: Advice Derbyshire, Advice UK, Bank Workers Charity, Care & Repair Cymru, Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association, Family Lives, Jig-So Ceredigion, Money Advice Trust, National Association of Student Money Advisers, Pennysmart, Retail Trust, RNIB Scotland and Transact.
- Turn2us is part of the national charity Elizabeth Finn Care.
- Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations.
- The Turn2us free, accessible website - www.turn2us.org.uk is designed to help people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other help.
- The website has a number of tools to make the process simpler, including a Grants Search, Benefits Calculator and ‘find an adviser’ tool to help locate someone to speak to.
- Turn2us works in partnership with organisations across the UK, including AdviceUK, Association of Charitable Organisations, Citizens Advice, Child Poverty Action Group, Home-Start UK and Money Advice Trust to develop our services and reach the many millions of people that need our help.
About Elizabeth Finn Care
- Elizabeth Finn Care is a charity registered in England and Wales: 207812 and Scotland: SC040987.
- Elizabeth Finn Care is a national charity that helps people in financial need to improve their lives.
- Elizabeth Finn Care gives direct financial support to people from over 120 occupational backgrounds, and through Turn2us helps millions more people in the UK to access the money available to them through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.
- Since being founded in 1897, Elizabeth Finn Care has given away over £130m in direct financial assistance to people in need. In 2011/2012 over 5,000 British and Irish citizens and residents received grants totalling over £4m from Elizabeth Finn Care.
About Which? Switch
- Which? Switch is the free energy switching service from Which?, the UK’s consumer association.
- Which? Switch provides impartial energy advice and tariff comparisons from over 20 suppliers.
- In 2010, the average Which? Switch user saved £270 on their annual energy bill.
- Which? has switching contracts in place with all the major energy suppliers enabling users to switch suppliers quickly and smoothly. The online switching service features tariffs from smaller specialist suppliers, ensuring that every customer receives the opportunity to review all of the tariffs available to them.
- Which? Switch has been fully accredited by Energywatch, the industry regulator.