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Heating costs poorer people more

Wednesday January 12th 2011

Poorer people pay hundreds of pounds more a year for heating their home than rich people, a poll has shown.

The average low-income family pays an annual £1,135 to heat their home, £255 more than wealthier families, according to Save The Children.

Energy companies raising their prices is likely to result in the average home paying as much as £1,800 a year by 2020 just to have the heating on.

The charity said poorer people tend to have to use pre-paid electricity or gas meters, which charge at a much higher rate than paying a bill through direct debit.

Save The Children's Sally Copley said: "If they were able to swap to direct debit they would save on average £250 a year."

Around five million people in the UK live in fuel poverty, defined as those who spend at least 10% of their income on heating. Of the five million, 17% are families with children under 16.

"There is a clear link between living in cold, damp conditions for long periods and children's health being put at risk," Ms Copley said.

Households with older people account for 52% of those in fuel poverty, while households with long-term sick or disabled residents account for 39%, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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