Thousands of Harrogate households are struggling to pay fuel bills

More than 9,000 households in Harrogate are struggling to pay their fuel bills, figures suggest.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:22 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:24 pm

Campaigners say the number of people across England unable to keep their homes warm is a “national scandal”.

An estimated 9,217 Harrogate households experienced fuel poverty in 2019, the latest Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy data shows.

At 12.9% of those in the area, that was broadly in line with the England average of 13.4%.

More than 9,000 households in Harrogate are struggling to pay their fuel bills, figures suggest.
More than 9,000 households in Harrogate are struggling to pay their fuel bills, figures suggest.

A household is considered to be fuel poor if they live in a property with low energy efficiency and would be pushed below the poverty line by housing costs and the energy bills needed to have a warm, well-lit home.

Nationally, around 3.2 million households were estimated to be fuel poor in 2019.

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“Fuel poverty is a national scandal and affects people in every part of the country,” said NEA’s chief executive Adam Scorer.

He said this wasn’t helped by the demise of schemes like the green homes grant, which was launched in September to help homeowners install energy efficient improvements but was recently scrapped having helped less than 10% of the homes it aimed to nationally.

Across different neighbourhoods in Harrogate, fuel poverty rates ranged from 4.8% to 20.6% in 2019.

But these estimates are based on small sample sizes and so should be treated with caution, said BEIS.

Overall, there were seven council areas across England with a fuel poverty rate of more than 20%, while there were two places – Wokingham and Hart in the South East – where fewer than 5% of households were fuel poor.

Simon Francis, co-ordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said variation in fuel poverty levels nationally was partly down to national policy and the state of historical housing stock.

But he said councils also have a “huge role to play” in alleviating fuel poverty, including by improving local housing and using central government grants to help those most at risk.

"Crucially, local authorities can ensure better enforcement of existing regulations on energy efficiency and property standards in the private rented sector,” he added.

The Local Government Association said councils are committed to improving home energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty, but called for longer-term funding to help them achieve national net zero ambitions.

An LGA spokesman added: “Councils should also be given greater flexibility around introducing landlord licensing schemes, so they can ensure private rented sector housing is also energy efficient.”

A government spokeswoman said 1.3 million fewer low-income households are living in the least energy efficient homes compared to 2010.

“We are committed to levelling up all regions of the UK, ensuring nobody goes cold in their own home, no matter where they live," she added.

"That’s why we recently announced £500 million in funding for local authorities to upgrade homes of thousands of low-income households across the country, many in deprived areas.”