Dramatic increase in Suffolk households living in fuel poverty
PUBLISHED: 07:32 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:47 27 March 2019
Pleas have been made to continue to help those struggling to heat their homes after figures revealed a dramatic rise in the number of Suffolk households living in fuel poverty.
The figures, collected by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, showed there were 33,889 homes were in fuel poverty in 2016 - the latest year for which statistics are available - compared to 29,306 the year before.
That is an increase of 15.6% and means that more than one in 10 homes in the county struggle to keep warm.
To be considered in fuel poverty, a household’s fuel costs must be above the national average and, were they to spend that amount, would be left with an income below the poverty line.
In recent times the Surviving Winter appeal, run by Suffolk Community Foundation with this newspaper, has raised more than £615,000 in eight years to support those in crisis.
However campaigners say the most recent figures show why it is so important to help the appeal, with cold homes said to be a bigger killer than road traffic accidents, alcohol and drug usage combined.
Malcolm Farrow, from Kesgrave-based oil trade association OFTEC, said: “The levels of fuel poverty in Suffolk are truly shocking and many people will be struggling in silence without the support they urgently need.
“Whilst some progress has been made to address these issues it is still not enough, which is why we are calling for more immediate action to be taken to ensure we protect the most vulnerable in society.”
Tim Holder, from Suffolk Community Foundation, said: “More than 83,000 people in Suffolk live in poverty - that includes 25,000 old and vulnerable people and 19,000 children. To hear that more people are suffering from fuel poverty is sadly not a surprise.
“For people of all ages, especially the vulnerable, this can have a direct impact on all aspects of their health and wellbeing. It is essential that this is addressed.
“In Suffolk we are fortunate to have the support of the county with the Surviving Winter Appeal, which focuses on older people.
“This year has been a record year, raising £125,000 which has helped 800 homes. Next year we hope to broaden our horizon to help more people of all ages across the county.”