Labour's shadow minister for climate change has said fuel poverty figures which show millions will struggle to heat their homes this winter must be seen as a wake-up call.
Writing in The Guardian, Luciana Berger said "real people" are suffering due to spiralling gas and electricity costs, and the issue is only going to get worse by the winter. She has called on energy minister Chris Huhne to take steps now to reform the energy market and help people struggling to heat their properties.
Figures released by the government last week show that in 2009 5.5 million households were in fuel poverty. Ms Berger said this figure has now risen to 6.3 million homes – almost a quarter of all UK households.
While investing in insulation can help, more price hikes due to come into force later this year are sure to hurt a large number of homeowners.
Ms Berger said: "First, it's vital that we end unclear, confusing bills so consumers can shop around for the best deal.
"Alongside this, we need 100 per cent transparency on how energy bills are calculated, so huge price rises can't be hidden behind rising wholesale prices.
"Most importantly, we need more competition in the energy market to drive down the cost of electricity and gas bills."