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Councils urged to act on fuel poverty

Local authorities across England have been urged to act in the wake of a new map revealing the extent of fuel poverty in the country.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition created a league table of local authority areas by combining fuel poverty figures with data on measures improving energy efficiency and therefore reducing fuel poverty.

Local authorities who want to understand more about what they can do have been encouraged to pass the Coalition’s fuel poverty motion. William Baker from Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty (STEP) said:

Local authorities are responsible for some of the most innovative and far-reaching initiatives to tackle fuel poverty.

However, the UK government must give all local authorities the powers and resources to make sure such initiatives are standard practice across the country.

The worst place in England for fuel poverty according to the map is Barking & Dagenham, followed by Stoke-on-Trent and Newham.

But it’s not just inner city areas which are badly ranked in the map with Shropshire, Herefordshire and King’s Lynn and West Norfolk all struggling with fuel poverty.

Meanwhile Bracknell Forest, Runnymede and East Hampshire are among the areas least affected by fuel poverty.

The map has been released as the ongoing energy crisis could see fuel poverty becoming endemic in society, according to campaigners.

The latest calculations have revealed that rising wholesale energy prices could see the number of households in the country rise from the current estimate of 4.1m to 5.3m. This would equate to 22% of all households in England classified as being in fuel poverty.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:

Councils play a hugely important role in the fight against cold homes. They work with landlords and housing providers to ensure that all rental properties in the area are let to a decent standard. By working with local health bodies and community groups, they can identify and support those most at risk from the negative impacts of fuel poverty. 

Local authorities must have the resources needed to properly enforce energy efficiency regulations which keep older people and families safe. As we approach the winter, no one must go cold and unwell for fear of the cost of turning the heating on. Longer term, we need to see greater investment from the government in energy efficiency programmes, which will help lower bills, reduce anxiety for those in cold homes and protect people against any future surges in fuel costs.

The Coalition has described a recent government plan to offer more funding to help households in fuel poverty a “drop in the ocean” and launched a petition calling for urgent action from the government:

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.