The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has announced a new scheme which it says could lift 100,000 households out of fuel poverty. The BERR said that it would be providing an extra £225 million to help meet the cost of rising fuel bills.

Under the scheme households that are struggling to pay their fuel bills will receive significant extra help with the cost of warming their homes. The BERR said that the extra funding comes from domestic energy suppliers thanks to a deal brokered by John Hutton, the Energy Secretary.

The BERR said that the new agreement followed the Budget announcement by Chancellor Alistair Darling that households would get more support and would mean that the UK's six energy suppliers will triple their collective annual spend on social assistance to £150 million by 2011.

John Hutton said, Thanks to the cooperation of our energy companies the amount of money being spent on social programmes to help the poorest heat their homes is now set to treble. This could help 100,000 households who struggle to keep their homes warm in the winter.

This is a significant boost to the billions already spent by Government and the energy companies and means we can now get this vital extra support to the people who really need it in time for the coldest months this coming winter.

I do not underestimate the difficulties and anxiety that rising energy prices can cause but I believe that this extra cash, coupled with ensuring we have the most competitive market possible, will help us toward our goal of eradicating fuel poverty in the UK.

Energy regulator Ofgem will also be responsible for monitoring the progress of energy companies towards fulfilling their commitments.