Newham has highest rate of fuel poverty in England, government figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 16:00 21 June 2019

Newham has the highest rate of fuel poverty in England, according to official figures. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Images

Newham has the highest rate of fuel poverty in England, according to official figures. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Newham has the highest rate of fuel poverty in England, with nearly a fifth of households affected.

Charity National Energy Action (NEA) has warned of the devastating effects of being unable to afford heating bills, and urged the government to take steps to protect vulnerable households.

Rising energy costs, low incomes and energy-inefficient housing are the main factors behind fuel poverty, according to NEA chief executive Adam Scorer.

He said: "The effects can be devastating - social isolation, poorer physical and mental health, lower educational achievement, and rationing of food and other essentials.

"We hear from individuals who are so stressed about their energy bills that they live in a constant state of anxiety, and from people who have no choice but to live in a cold, damp home, making health conditions such as bronchitis worse.

"We hear about children spending most of their time at home during the winter in bed trying to keep warm, rather than socialising with their families."

Government figures reveal that 20,060 households in Newham cannot afford to heat and light their homes properly without being pushed into poverty.

It means that the issue affects 19 per cent of households in the area, according to a report from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS).

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Jerry During of Plaistow based advice service Money A+E said: "This does not come as a surprise. We have customers seeking help with issues around the risk of being disconnected from gas and electricity and the cost of pre-payment meters."

He called on energy companies to pick up the costs of warrants and the installation of pre-payment meters for customers in debt with at least a 10pc cap on the amount that can be recovered from struggling families.

The big energy firms should also make sure households swamped by fuel bills get support from local agencies, he said.

Money A+E has teamed up with Citizens UK, the charity behind the living wage campaign, to challenge energy suppliers to make their prices fairer.

Across England, the rate is 11pc, rising to an average of 12pc for households across London.

A household is considered to be fuel poor if they have energy costs above the national median, and if meeting those costs would push them below the poverty line.

The 398,000 fuel poor households in London are on average £280 short of being able to afford their energy bills each year.

A DBEIS spokeswoman said: "No one should be cold in their own home. That's why we're protecting all households from rip-off deals with our energy price cap, and helping two million low-income households get money off their winter energy bills.

"On top of this, we're targeting support at the most vulnerable, giving extra money to pensioners during the winter and improving the energy efficiency of households on low incomes."

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