4.5 million households 'believe they are in fuel poverty'

Some 22% of UK households - 4.5 million in total - say they are in 'fuel poverty', according to the latest MoneyMood survey from Legal & General.

The government defines fuel poverty as spending more than 10% of household income on energy for the home.

Although the overall figure has only risen by one percentage point since the last survey in October (when 21% were in fuel poverty), there have been some big changes in different regions around the UK.

29% of households in the East Midlands believe they are in fuel poverty, up from around 20% in October. The figure in the South West has increased from 14% to 23%.

In Wales, more than a third (34%) of households now believe they are in fuel poverty - up from 31% in October.

Mark Gregory, Legal & General Chief Executive, said: "We believe the cost of fuel is already making balancing household finances even harder for those with lower incomes. Any further rise in the amount spent on fuel is likely to have a significant impact on how the less well off households cope with paying bills."

Dealing with fuel poverty

When energy bills take up such a large portion of your income, it can be difficult to make room for your other important costs. But there are things you may be able to do to help.

Switch and save

If you haven't switched energy provider recently, you may be surprised at how much you can save. The difference between the cheapest and the most expensive bills amounts to hundreds of pounds per year, so make sure you compare deals every few months.

Get help with your debts

If you have debts that are making things even more difficult for you, seek expert advice. There may be ways of reducing the amount you pay each month to ensure you have room for all your essential living costs, including energy bills. You can find out more about what kind of debt help is available here.

Joel Stanier

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