THE energy company EDF has issued a warning to Government after new figures revealed that tens of thousands of households in County Durham, Darlington and Teesside were in fuel poverty before the energy crisis.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has warned that many more will struggle to afford rocketing bills this year and estimated that more than six million households in England have now been thrust into fuel poverty.

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy figures show that 6,626 households in Darlington were in fuel poverty in 2020 - the most recent official figures.

In County Durham, 34,928 households were living in fuel poverty, and in Middlesbrough 10,161 households were living in fuel poverty.

6,257 households in Hartlepool were living in fuel poverty in 2020, according to figures and in Stockton the number was 10,816.

In North Yorkshire, 41,794 households were in fuel poverty in 2020.

Nationally, more than three million households were in fuel poverty in 2020, which is the lowest proportion since records began in 2010.

The below map shows the number of households in fuel poverty in each local authority in 2020.

However, these figures do not account for the current explosion in fuel prices, which saw the energy price cap increase by 54 per cent in April.

The annual limit on tariffs is due to rise again in October and Michael Lewis, chief executive of energy company EON UK, warned MPs between 30 and 40% of people in Britain could end up in fuel poverty.

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Simone Rossi, chief executive of EDF, also warned parliament that the company had received 40% more calls from customers worried about debt.

Simon Francis, from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said the 2020 figures show "just how significant the Government's failure to tackle fuel poverty has been" and estimated more than 6 million households in England have now been thrust into fuel poverty.

"The impact of measures taken pre-pandemic has barely shifted the dial – and we know very little has been done since 2020 to change the picture," added Mr Francis.

The Northern Echo:

"We need urgent help for households in fuel poverty now combined with a long-term plan to improve energy efficiency of our homes and a sustainable, renewable-led, energy mix."

A Government spokesperson said it is continuing to make "significant progress on tackling fuel poverty."

They added: "We are investing over £6.6 billion this parliament and working directly with local authorities to further boost energy efficiency in homes across the UK, which remains the best long-term method to keep household energy costs down".

Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, said the “appalling figures” showed the “failure of the conservative government to support people through the cost of living crisis.”

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He added: “No one should be forced into difficult decisions of whether to “heat or eat” yet a decade of poor planning and lack of action from the Conservative Government is making people do just that.

“Ministers had a perfect opportunity to bring forward meaningful plans to tackle rocketing energy costs in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, just like they’ve had ample time to endorse Labour’s plans for a windfall tax on North Sea Gas and Oil and use that money to cut energy bills – they failed to do so and appear to have no plans to bring forward an emergency budget to address the crisis.”

Mary Foy, Labour MP for City of Durham, said that the government "turining a bblind eye to the shokcing levels of fuel poverty is as self-defeating as it is cruel."

She added: “Fuel poverty blights lives - it causes misery in the short term but also reduces educational attainment and life chances, and health outcomes of both young and old in the long run.

"That’s why we simply cannot ignore the tsunami of fuel poverty that soaring energy prices are inflicting on households."

The figures break down by local authority as follows:

  • County Durham = 34,928
  • Darlington = 6,626
  • Hartlepool = 6,257
  • Middlesbrough = 10,161
  • Redcar and Cleveland = 9,031
  • Stockton on Tees = 10,816
  • Gateshead = 13,455
  • Newcastle Upon Tyne = 20,820
  • North Tyneside = 12,000
  • South Tyneside = 10,316
  • Sunderland = 18,513
  • Craven = 4,160
  • Hambleton = 5.946
  • Harrogate = 9,448
  • Richmondshire = 3,552
  • Ryedale = 3,938
  • Scarborough = 9,951


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