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WOLVERHAMPTON: City ‘one of worst’ for fuel poverty

WOLVERHAMPTON: City ‘one of worst’ for fuel poverty

Wolverhampton Civic Centre. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Wolverhampton is one of the worst areas in the country for fuel poverty – with 65 per cent of neighbourhood households unable to heat their homes adequately, according to recent figures.

Analysis of government data conducted by West Midlands Friends of the Earth, revealed the city had the highest proportion of fuel poverty-stricken households after  Stoke-on-Trent and the London boroughs of Newham and Barking and Dagenham.

The reasons so many families struggle to stay warm during the winter months are cited as low income, high fuel prices, poor energy efficiency, unaffordable housing prices and poor quality private rental housing.

Research also found people of colour are twice as likely to be living in fuel poverty as white people, say Friends of the Earth.

Council leader Ian Brookfield (Lab. Bushbury South and Low Hill) said: “Fuel poverty is a huge issue facing households in our city and across the country, and these problems are only going to be exacerbated by the rising cost of living and the current crisis in the energy market which is hiking up gas bills.

“These are issues the government needs to tackle as a matter of urgency. As a local authority, we are determined to see more new and better-insulated homes built in our city and create more better-paid jobs for our residents.

“We are also utilising the £2.6 million Household Support Fund to work with housing providers and community groups and charities to offer support and help to households experiencing fuel poverty.

“We have committed £550,000 to provide support for households with their energy costs this winter and the funding will also be used to provide assistance around other costs such as food and other essentials.

“We’re also developing a new website where people can be signposted to services to help them access the right support, to complement our existing helpline,” he added.

Chris Crean, regional campaigner at West Midlands Friends of the Earth, said: “Everyone deserves to live in a warm home, no matter where they live, how old they are or what kind of house they live in.

“But this research paints a stark picture of the many ways fuel poverty discriminates according to race, disability and the places people live.

“Fuel poverty is the product of poorly insulated homes and soaring energy costs, and is as much a health issue as it is a climate one.

“Rapid progress is needed to lift people out of fuel poverty right now.

“This can be achieved by ensuring every home is well insulated, in the meantime offering greater financial support to those who need it so that no-one goes cold this winter,” he added.

Friends of the Earth is now calling on the government to introduce a Windfall Tax on fossil fuel companies currently profiting to fund home insulation and support people in fuel poverty through the winter.

Overall, 41 per cent of neighbourhoods in the West Midlands were rated worst for fuel poverty compared to to just one per cent in the South East region.

West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North East were identified as the top three regions with the highest proportion of neighbourhoods ranking poorly for fuel poverty, while the South West and South East were found to have the lowest percentage.

Ahead of Wolverhampton, Newham in London had the most fuel-poor neighbourhoods in England, accounting for 73 per cent of the borough, followed by Stoke-on-Trent  with 69 per cent, and Barking and Dagenham  with 68 per cent.

Previous research by the government has shown that there are more than three million people living in fuel poverty across England.

Government research has also shown young people are more likely to live in fuel poverty than older people.

Cold homes are known to have an adverse impact on health and wellbeing.

According to the Institute of Health Equity, there is a strong relationship between cold temperatures associated with poorly-heated homes and life-limiting health conditions such as cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Pics show Wolverhampton Civic Centre, Chris Crean from Friends of the Earth and Wolverhampton council leader Cllr Ian Brookfield.

*Don’t know if we can find a generic picture to highlight fuel poverty. I looked but not sure we have one we can us, re. copyright etc?

Words: Joe Sweeney, Local Democracy Reporter


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