'The need is getting greater and greater': Fuel bank chief warns of desperation hitting families

10 February 2022, 18:35 | Updated: 10 February 2022, 18:41

By Sophie Barnett

The Fuel Bank Foundation has warned demand is getting "greater and greater" as the cost of living soars, with families "not having the money they need to keep warm, cook tea or have a shower".

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Fuel banks have only existed for around four or five years, says Matthew Cole, chief of trustees at The Fuel Bank Foundation, and now they are being relied on more than ever before.

Mr Cole told LBC's Eddie Mair the charity has seen a "drastic expansion" over the last two years, as a result of "real desperation and real need" in communities up and down the country.

"People literally don't have the money they need anymore to keep themselves warm, to cook their kids tea before they go to bed, to have a shower, and we are just seeing need getting greater and greater," he warned.

A fuel bank is the same prospect as a food bank, providing emergency support for homes in fuel crisis, unable to top up their prepayment meters.

The Fuel Bank Foundation, which has supported over half a million people, has seen a 75% increase in the number of families needing help over the last 12 months.

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Mr Cole said this desperation is before the upcoming £700 energy price hike has even hit people's bank accounts - and that's what really concerns them.

"These are people whose lives are in a terrible situation, they are really struggling and they need crisis help," Mr Cole said.

"We are the safety net where the safety net has slipped away. Without us people would be living in the dark and cold."

The energy price cap will increase by almost £700 from 1 April for approximately 22 million customers.

There are fears this will plunge many people into fuel poverty.

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Mr Cole added: "Three or four years ago, we were supporting people as maybe they had a bit of resilience left. But now the people we are helping, that resilience they had either from friends they could turn to for help, that jam jar in the back of the kitchen cupboard with an emergency fiver in it, whatever it might be, all that resilience has gone.

"So when people turn to us they are in absolute dire states. That's what worries us.

"We are seeing more and more people turning to us for help."

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