Over 14 million people could find themselves in fuel poverty in the near future, if new figures from gas giant Centrica predicting a 70% rise in gas prices prove accurate - nearly a quarter of the population.
Around 4.5 million households are currently living in fuel poverty, equating to around 10.4 million people according to the government’s 2002 figures from the Household Survey, but another 1.6 million homes are likely to be added as prices continue to rise.
The direct cost increase, already up 40% this year on top of rises from 2007, would equate to a gas bill of £1,300 for the average household. People are defined as being in fuel poverty if they spend more than 10% of their annual budget on energy.
Prices look set to continue at such levels indefinitely or rise further as oil prices, which gas is linked to, continue to remain high. The figures have contributed to a significant rise in financial problems for some of the most vulnerable houses, as people struggle with a lower availability of loans, high petrol costs and pay settlements which are failing to match inflation.
Last month Centrica announced it was on track to make a £1.9bn profit from its 15.9 million-strong customer base, down from £2.2bn last year.