AN estimated 63,000 people on the Isle of Wight are suffering due to changes in benefits and allowances, according to a charity.

Ray Harrington-Vail, from Island-based charity The Footprint Trust, is backing National Energy Action's (NEA) Warm Home Campaign.

New research by NEA revealed over one million fuel-poor families in England - over 169, 237 in the South East alone - will not have the cash to meet basic living expenses as winter begins to bite.

Families in fuel poverty are facing an income shortfall of up to £9,331 per year (£778 per month) to cover basic essentials, including energy, the charity said.

Peter Smith, director of policy and research, said: "Our new report highlights the scale of the impossible choices that over 169, 237 families in the South East, 63,595 households on the Isle of Wight, will be making this winter.

"The report illustrates the catastrophic impact Universal Credit could have on these families who have no savings to insulate them from falling into debt, going hungry and not heating their homes over the current six-week waiting period.

"We aren't talking about needing to cut down on a few luxuries; we're seeing people switch off the heating for the whole winter and kids only eating one meal a day. We know others are adopting unsafe behaviours in an attempt to keep warm, withdrawing entirely from society or building up bigger and bigger debt problems.''