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Monday 01st of December 2008
August 15, 2008

Britain’s poorest families in line for fuel vouchers


by Kay Murchie
”Britain’s

The Government is drawing up plans to help Britain’s poorest families in the form of vouchers to help them with soaring fuel bills.

Vouchers worth between £50 and £100 could be sent to around six million who claim child tax credit and would be redeemed directly against fuel bills.

However, the proposed scheme has met with criticism. Jenny Saunders, of the charity National Energy Action, said ministers need something more straightforward. Payments with benefit through the tax credit system might be more sensible, she said.

Meanwhile, Carl Emmerson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said this could potentially cost the Government £600 million.

Fuel is not the only cost that British households are faced with. Mortgage payments have risen for many whose cheap fixed-rate deals have come to an end. Furthermore, rising costs in petrol, heat and light has meant that the average household is paying nearly £630 a year more compared with this time last year.

Chancellor Alistair Darling has been questioned how the Government could afford the £600 million and many have asked why should taxpayers be paying it rather than the energy companies.

Last weekend, it was revealed that all households who receive child benefit were in line for a £150 payment to help with the cost of fuel bills. This emerged after a senior civil servant was overheard discussing it on a train.

A spokesperson for the Treasury said the Government is looking at measures to support families and business through these difficult times but no decisions have been finalised.

In a study by price comparison website, uSwitch.com, it was discovered that 39% of households cannot afford the rises.

The survey revealed that just over half are taking action to make their homes more fuel efficient with insulation and double glazing, while 15% plan to sacrifice hot meals to save money.

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Story link: Britain’s poorest families in line for fuel vouchers


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