Our campaign to help those in fuel poverty this winter
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
New figures show that just over 14 per cent of people in East Suffolk are considered "fuel poor".
Out of more than 113,142 households, more than 16,000 can't afford to fuel their homes as the winter months draw near.
We want to do something to help.
Today, the Lowestoft Journal launches our 'There with you this winter' campaign, which will give you information and organisations to turn to if you are struggling this winter.
There has also been a rise in people claiming Universal Credit in Waveney.
In December 2019, 7,667 people were signed on. Since the coronavirus pandemic that has jumped to 11,833, the latest figures show.
That send a clear message - more people than ever are going to need support this winter.
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The number of people receiving winter fuel allowance has fallen over recent years which the Department for Work and Pensions has put down to changes to the state pension age.
Successive governments have raised the state pension age for women in line with men, hiking up the age of entitlement for women meant fewer of them could claim winter fuel payments.
The DWP says this drop more than offset the increase in the overall number of pensioners in recent years.
A DWP spokesman said: "The Government makes more than 11.5 million winter fuel payments totalling £2 billion a year to help people pay their heating bills. Nearly all are automatic without the need to claim.
"As the state pension age for women has increased since April 2010 it follows that the annual numbers eligible for payments will fall slightly."
Rik Martin, chief executive of Community Action Norfolk, said some 600 premature deaths were attributed to fuel poverty across the county.
"So it’s driven by three factors – household income, energy costs and the energy efficiency of the home.
"At Community Action Norfolk we run advice sessions for anyone who’d like to learn how to save on their gas, electricity or heating oil bills.
"We usually advise people to look at switching supplier to get a better deal but with the steeply rising costs of energy just now, the focus is more on looking at easy ways of reducing energy consumption around the house."
Ring 01362 698216 or email email@example.com for more advice.
As part of our awareness campaign, we pledge to:
- Profile charities and organisations you can turn to for practical advice
- Offer solutions to cut energy costs and become fuel-efficient
- Publish expert advice on how, and when, to switch suppliers
- Signpost essential nationwide services
- Reveal tips to instantly reduce fuel consumption
- Help you budget for Christmas and get expert advice on family financial planning all year round
- Keep you updated on any grants and support available from government or local authorities
- Bring you the best money-saving tips for everything from running your home, car and reducing your weekly shopping bill
We will not dwell on the things we cannot change, but offer solutions and profile those who have faced hardship and come through the other end.
If Covid taught us anything, it is that our power is bringing people together, using our special place in the community to make sure the vulnerable or struggling members of our communities have a place to turn.
What is Fuel Poverty?
There are three factors used to measure whether or not a household is classed as being in fuel poverty.
These are fuel prices, household income and energy efficiency.
Despite caps by energy market regulator Ofgem, rising fuel costs can impact on low-income families.
Households with lower incomes are likely to spend a higher percentage of their budget on fuel, and as a result, any leftover income is low enough to push the family below the threshold.
If homes are not using energy efficiently, there is a bigger chance that energy is being wasted and these households will spend more to keep their homes warm.
Here to Help
Struggling with your bills and not sure where to turn?
There are plenty of local organisations and support groups offering advice. We will be profiling these throughout the campaign.
Here are some websites worth checking out: