LONDON (Reuters) - The British government and a consumer watchdog teamed up on Wednesday to warn buyers of heating oil they should to stock up now to avoid price spikes and distribution delays this winter.
The government is keen to avoid a repeat of scenes in late 2010 when thousands of households, particularly in remote areas were left without sufficient fuel after a cold snap disrupted supplies and sent prices soaring by 70 percent.
"Previous severe winters show that it is better to stock up before the cold weather sets in, when suppliers have spare delivery capacity," John Hayes, Energy Minister said in a statement.
Four percent of the UK's near 21 million households rely on heating oil to stay warm during the winter months, about a third of which spend 10 percent or more of their income on energy costs, meaning they are in fuel poverty.
"In recent years we have seen big spikes in the cost of heating oil during the winter months, which can have a major, effect on household budgets," William Baker, head of fuel poverty at watchdog Consumer Focus said in a statement.
In the winter of 2010 heating oil prices rocketed from 40 pence per litre to more than 70 pence in some cases leaving many of the country's most vulnerable households struggling to afford heating.
Reporting By Susanna Twidale