• Warm and well In North Yorkshire is warning of potential ‘fuel poverty’ this April.
  • It’s due to potential benefit cuts and rising Energy Bills for Harrogate.
  • Warm and Well in North Yorkshire is run by Citizens Advice and funded by North Yorkshire County Council.

Warm and Well in North Yorkshire is warning that many more families may soon find themselves in “heat or eat” situations following the announcement that energy bills are set to rise.

Ofgem revealed that energy bills are to increase by £96 to £1,138 a year in April for households on standard or default tariffs.

The price cap, set twice a year by the regulator, affects 11 million households in the UK who have never switched suppliers or whose discounted deals have expired, approximately half of all UK households, whilst the remainder are on so-called fixed deals, which will not be affected.

This combined with the possibility of the loss of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit in April and persistent cold weather may create the perfect storm of fuel and food poverty across North Yorkshire.

At the last count in 2017 there were thought to be 5703 properties in Fuel Poverty across Harrogate, that is 8.2% of the population of the district. However, this is thought to be much higher now due to the devastating financial effects of the pandemic on families across the area.

Warm and Well in North Yorkshire, which is run by Citizens Advice and funded by North Yorkshire County Council, helps people in fuel poverty across the region and has seen a 198% increase in referrals compared to this time last year. The organisation has handed out hundreds of fuel vouchers recently for many vulnerable people unable to pay their energy bills.

Julia Priestnall Project Coordinator for Warm and Well in North Yorkshire said:

“We have seen a huge increase in people needing our help and many families simply having to choose whether to heat their home or put food on the table. Citizens Advice said its research in December indicated that 2.1 million households were already behind with Energy Bills across the UK and we expect this to rise with the impending rise in energy bills and the potential loss of the £20 uplift to welfare benefits.

“We are particularly worried about vulnerable people on pre-payment meters customers whose costs will increase by £87 to £1,156 a year.

“With many families living in rural areas across the region, often in older properties with poor insulation, the energy cost rise and cut to universal credit and tax credits could create a perfect storm of fuel and food poverty.

“As a result of this we are joining our partners Citizens Advice across North Yorkshire in calling on the government to keep the lifeline and extending the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and Tax Credits beyond April to keep people out of fuel poverty. If we lost the £20 uplift research shows it’s the equivalent to almost 7 days energy costs and 3 days of food in Harrogate.”

If you need help with fuel poverty in North Yorkshire contact Warm and Well in North Yorkshire on 01609 767 555. You can also make a referral online here.

Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.