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Fuel poverty in England is likely to worsen, despite measures to try to eradicate it, a government-commissioned report has warned.

Some 7.8 million people could not afford their energy bills in 2009, its author, Prof John Hills said. This is due to rise to 8.5 million by 2016.

Campaigners have called for more money to be invested in cutting bills.

The government has said it is committed to tackling the problem which has been linked to 2,700 deaths a year.

"Fuel poverty is a serious national problem and this government remains committed to doing all it can to tackle it and make sure that the help available reaches those who need it most," said the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey.

The previous government had said it was committed to eradicating the problem, "as far as reasonably practical", by 2016. Continue reading the main story �Start Quote

   "The number of fuel poor households helped by government-backed schemes is likely to more than halve over the next three years, despite fuel poverty levels having almost tripled in five years�

Derek Lickorish Fuel Poverty Advisory Group (FPAG)

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Prof Hills' interim report last year said almost 3,000 people died each year from problems linked to fuel poverty such as respiratory or cardiovascular disease. It said the problem was getting worse as energy costs rose.