Britain just hit an ignominious milestone: new figures show that more than a million families with children live in “fuel poverty,” unable to afford their basic power needs. The Independent reports:
The number of English families in fuel poverty has climbed steadily over the last decade to reach 1,027,000. The total comprises 679,000 two-parent families and 348,000 single-parent households. […]Almost one in five families with children (18 per cent) are in fuel poverty in England, according to the latest statistics, with an average gap of almost £400 a year between a family’s energy bill and what it can afford.
Cheap energy isn’t just a boon to industry; it’s also a boost for households whose budgets benefit from lower electricity bills. By the same token, expensive energy can really hurt households, and that effect is most keenly felt, naturally, by lower-income families. In this way, higher energy prices are like a regressive tax, as many in the UK can now attest.The UK’s North Sea oil production is waning as fields mature, while plunging global oil prices may make that beleaguered drilling uneconomical entirely. Meanwhile, local protests have effectively stymied attempts to tap the country’s prodigious onshore shale reserves. If there’s a silver lining, it’s this: British energy policy has made it ever more reliant on imports, and it’s certainly a buyer’s market these days.That, however, will be cold comfort for the million families with children who will be shivering in the dark this winter.