By Daniel Hunter

The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group have claimed that an additional 300,000 households could be forced into fuel poverty by the end of 2012.

The lobby group are calling on David Cameron to tackle what they see as a 'spiralling' problem.

With all of the leading energy suppliers having pushed prices up, energy prices have risen by 7% on average this year, taking the average annual direct debit bill to £1,247.

A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if more than 10% of its income is spent on home heating.

The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, which is funded by the Department of Energy, estimates that nine million people could meet that criteria by 2016, and that 300,000 additional homes will be added to that figure this winter alone.

"With a cold winter, welfare reforms cutting incomes, and all at a time of austerity measures and other rising household costs, the plight of the fuel poor has never been more serious," said Derek Lickorish, chairman of the FPAG.

"Millions are living in misery due to high energy bills. Yet time is running out for the government to fuel poverty-proof the homes of those on the lowest incomes.

"A toxic cocktail of rising wholesale prices, the high cost of energy reforms and cuts in incomes for many households means fuel poverty levels are set to sky rocket without radical action."

Consumer groups want the government to use some of the £4bn in annual carbon taxes set to be collected to help tackle this issue - including a more ambitious programme of home insulation.

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