Fuel poverty affecting more than 13,500 homes in North East Lincolnshire
MORE than 13,500 homes in North East Lincolnshire are in fuel poverty.
It means a touch under 20 per cent of all the households in the borough face the tough daily decision to either keep warm or eat – and as fuel prices continue to soar, this scary statistic is set to get worse.
On Monday, E.On became the last of the big six energy suppliers to announce it will increase tariffs this winter – just as the cold is really starting to bite, with temperatures expected to plummet further today.
Figures released by North East Lincolnshire Council have revealed that out of the 69,347 households in the borough, 13,641 are classed as living in fuel poverty.
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Many of the residents affected are either the elderly living on their state pension, struggling single parents or the unemployed who are dependent on benefits – three groups that are higher in population in the borough compared to the national average.
Local older people support charity Friendship At Home, which aims to combat isolation among people over the age of 60, says this is a huge problem for the people it helps, but many are reluctant to admit they are struggling because they do not want to admit to living in "poverty".
For 86-year-old widow Bett Hill, of Cleethorpes, making sure the bills don't go too high is a great worry to her and she has taken to making large batches of food at once so she has portions for the next day which can be reheated in the microwave – cutting down the amount of fuel she uses.
She said: "I do worry about putting the heating on too much so I always make my dinner for two days at once so I only have to use half the fuel. If I go out I make sure the heating is off but as soon as I get back home it is too cold so I put it back on low."
Bett is one of many whose main income is their state pension of just over £100 a week.
A person is classed as "fuel poor" when 10 per cent of their annual income is spent on fuel – which often means they sacrifice food for fuel. In rural Lincolnshire, 10 per cent of households fall into this category.
NELC claims combating fuel poverty – which often leads to ill health and, in the worst extremes, death – is one of its top priorities and this winter is once again running the Warm Front scheme, using Government cash to provide free insulation and energy saving materials to make homes more fuel efficient.
Jason Longhurst, head of development for the council, said: "We are aware over 13,000 households in this area don't have adequate means to heat their homes. It is particularly concerning at this time of the year when thousands of older people in England become seriously ill or even die as a result of the cold.
"If people are struggling to heat their home, we would urge them to call our officers who can provide help and advice. We are committed to helping those people who are suffering from fuel poverty to cut their energy bills and make heating their home more affordable.
"There's a lot of help available to local residents and we are keen to help them access it."
Call the Energy Team on 01472 324782 for further information.
Editor's Comment: The cost of heating homes
WAS privatisation of our essential services ever the right thing to do?
That is not to say that as nationalised industries they were well run - they were probably not and red tape, bureaucracy and jobs for the boys were most likely there in the mix.
So, back then, the magical answer was to put our gas, water and electricity companies out to the market forces.
The concept was logical – competition would mean users would have a choice and pressure to win business would see the best possible prices offered.
The trouble is consumers have turned out not to have much of a choice at all.
In fact the only choice they have had is to accept the continual increases in heating, water and fuel bills, which just appear to be spiralling out of control.
*Will you struggle to pay your bills this winter and how do you feel about our utility companies? Please let us know by commenting below.