Nearly two-thirds of social tenants in low income work struggling with energy costs



New research by the national charity Turn2us has found that almost two in three (63%) social tenants on low incomes are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work. Worryingly, of those who are struggling, half (49%) have done so for more than a year.
The research reveals that nearly a third (31%) of low income social tenants have missed one or more payment to their energy supplier in the last twelve months. One in three (33%) are struggling with other essential bills, with Council Tax topping the list of payments they’re behind on (28%).
As the weather turns colder, the research also uncovers how low income social tenants will cope with these costs through the winter. Of those worried about their energy costs, over two-thirds (68%) feel they will have to cut back on or not use their heating, whilst half (49%) said they would resort to cutting back on food. Two-fifths (41%) anticipate that their energy bills will cause further stress and worry in the coming months.
There are 2.3 million households living in fuel poverty in England alone*, and it is estimated that nearly half of these are in work.** As debate continues around proposed cuts to the tax credits system, there is growing concern that household finances could be even harder hit from next year.
Turn2us’ research also suggests a lack of awareness of the help that could be available to social tenants on low incomes or potential reluctance to access it. Of those who are struggling to pay their energy costs, only 7% have turned to an advice organisation for help. Three-quarters (76%) have not checked their eligibility for welfare benefits in the last twelve months, whilst a huge 83% are unaware that some energy suppliers have charitable trusts set up to help certain customers.
This winter, Turn2us is running its No Cold Homes campaign specifically to help more people who are unable to afford to heat their homes. The charity is encouraging anyone in financial hardship to use its free online service to see if they are eligible for welfare benefits, charitable grants and other support – additional income which could help them manage their energy costs over the colder months.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us said: “Our research paints a startling picture, revealing the extent to which households are struggling to heat their homes, even though they’re in work. It is clear that more needs to be done to help raise awareness of the financial support and other help available to people on low incomes to help them manage their energy costs.
We know that this is an issue that affects a wide range of people, and alongside working households, many others will suffer this winter. We believe that no one should have to live in a cold home. Through our campaign, we urge anyone struggling to check what support could be available.”
The No Cold Homes campaign runs from 18 November to 16 December 2015. As part of the campaign, Turn2us is hosting an online celebrity clothes auction (30 November – 9 December) to raise awareness of people’s struggles to heat their homes, and funds to help more people affected.