Fuel poverty to bite this winter

23rd October 2012. Fuel poverty for old age pensioners.
23rd October 2012. Fuel poverty for old age pensioners.

MORE and more households in Derbyshire will be plunged into fuel poverty this winter as energy bills hit an all-time high.

Experts say inflation busting hikes will leave record numbers below the fuel poverty line – spending more than ten per cent of their income on heating and light.

Gas and electricity prices are set to soar by up to 11 per cent before Christmas, with average household bills hitting £1,334 a year.

As a result, hundreds of struggling families and pensioners will be afraid to turn on their heating this winter.

Campaign Group Advice Derbyshire is now calling on residents to find out more about the support available to them.

Partnership manager Kris Ambler said: “These latest research findings show that there is a need for individuals and families to have access to clear information and independent guidance to help them find support with rising energy costs.”

Latest figures from the department for energy and climate change show 80,766 households – 19 per cent – in Derbyshire are living in fuel poverty.

This is slightly above the regional average of 18.2 percent.

Advice Derbyshire is backing a national campaign hosted by Turn2us after new research revealed people on low incomes are unaware of the support available.

The research showed over two-fifths are not currently claiming benefits they may be entitled to and 70 per cent were unaware that energy suppliers have to offer cheaper ‘social tariffs’ to their most vulnerable customers.

Over two-fifths were not aware of the governments Warm Front Scheme which provides funding for insulation and heating improvements.

Mr Ambler added: “The Turn2us fuel poverty micro-site brings together a number of tools which are free to use – all in one place to help households.”

To work out which welfare benefits and tax credits you might be entitled to visit www.fuelpovertymap.org.uk.