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People across the UK are struggling to heat their homes due to “impossibly high prices” and now face “terrible consequences” as a result of the cold snap, a fuel poverty charity has warned. National Energy Action has called on the government to give more support to “those most at risk” as freezing temperatures hit parts of the UK.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a Level 3 cold weather warning for England until Monday and the Met Office has issued several amber weather warnings for snow and ice in parts of the UK over the next few days. It comes as people on the lowest income earners receive a £25 cold weather payment in hundreds of affected postcode areas across England and Wales.

Government payments have been activated for seven consecutive days for eligible households in areas where the average temperature is or is expected to be 0°C or below. However, Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, said more needed to be done, adding: “Millions of people will have dreaded the onset of winter.

“Impossible high prices and now the cold weather will make millions of people stay warm and safe at home. Our figures show that 6.7 million UK households are energy poor after energy prices almost doubled in a year.

“Every day we hear about people being forced to turn off their heating when they need it most. The cruel choice is either a huge debt or an unheated house, with dire consequences in either case.

“We will now see how dark this winter will be. Despite the current aid programme, the government must provide more aid to the most vulnerable this winter.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Cold weather benefits can be activated until the end of March, giving extra reassurance to people facing unseasonably cold weather in the colder months.

Freezing conditions along the English coast and parts of Northern Ireland and Wales are expected to continue until Saturday
Freezing conditions along the English coast and parts of Northern Ireland and Wales are expected to continue until Saturday

“We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and this extra help comes on top of wider government support, including £1,200 in direct payments already made available to millions of low-income households this year. We’re also helping households save £400 on their energy bills this winter, with our Energy Price Guarantee saving the average household a further £900.”

The Met Office said temperatures could drop “close to minus 10C” in rural areas on Thursday evening. It has warned motorists that winter showers will form dangerous patches of ice on some roads in the coming days.

The weather forecaster has extended the yellow weather warning for snow and ice in northern Scotland until Sunday afternoon. Yellow ice warnings have also been issued for Friday along the coast and north of England and parts of Wales and Northern Ireland.

Cold conditions on the English coast and parts of Northern Ireland and Wales are expected to continue until Saturday, it warned. Patches of ice on untreated roads, sidewalks and cycle paths are likely to cause nuisance.

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