The Warm and Well in North Yorkshire project which is run by Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire and supports people in fuel poverty, had already reported a huge rise in people needing help since October 2021.
The number of calls received between October and December 2021 was 975 - compare this to 1,103 calls for the 12-month period prior to October, that’s almost as many in three months as for the whole of the previous year.
Alarmingly, 64% of referrals were from clients who are disabled or have a long-term health condition. 33 % of referrals were made from single households and 24% were single parent families.
With today’s announcement that households across the region will face a record energy bill increase of 54% from April. Warm and Well in North Yorkshire is warning many more families will be pulled into fuel poverty and the worst is yet to come. This means households which pay by direct debit will face an average of bill of £1,971 a year for their gas and electricity.
Worryingly, homes using a pre-pay meter, which are typically more vulnerable people on lower incomes, will on average face a steeper hike of £708 and an annual bill of £2,017 a year.
Warm and Well Project Coordinator Julia Priestnall commented:
“We have already been supporting record numbers of people needing support with rising energy bills since October and have been dreading the announcement of a further rise in prices.
Our front-line advisers are frequently coming across people who are in heat or eat scenarios, are having to ration their fuel, or have had their emergency prepayment meter run out when they’re at least a week away from their next benefit payment.
We are particularly concerned about the more vulnerable people, who are often on pre-payment meters and now facing an annual bill on average of over £2000 a year.
Whilst we welcome the Government’s emergency measures such as the Household Support Fund and the one-off repayable £200 discount on energy bills, we feel much more needs to be done and these amount to ‘short term fixes’ when we need longer term solutions and support for families.
People are already having to navigate the rising cost of living crisis and we have the national insurance hike to add to this in April. Citizens Advice research has recently found than one in seven (16%) would not be able to cover the anticipated average price cap rise of £60 per month. This rises to over a quarter (27%) of disabled people and more than a third (36%) of people on Universal Credit.
We encourage anyone that is worried about fuel poverty in North Yorkshire to get in touch with us as soon as possible. No family should worry about the difficult choice of either heating their home or feeding themselves during these difficult times”.
If you are worried about fuel poverty contact Warm and Well In North Yorkshire on 01609 767 555 or visit https://www.warmandwell.org.uk/