Fuel poverty in Wetherby

Higher fuel costs means having to cut back elsewhere, says WiSE project manager Neil Bellamy.
Higher fuel costs means having to cut back elsewhere, says WiSE project manager Neil Bellamy.
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More than 3,300 households in Elmet and Rothwell are living in fuel poverty.

Figures released by Safegas show that 3,349 households in the constituency are struggling with their heating bills.

According to the research, carried out in November and December 2014, more than one third - 37 per cent - of local homeowners are rationing the heating this winter, with one in 10 saying they are trying to spend more time out of the house so as not to run their heating at all.

This has been highlighted as a real problem for older people in Wetherby, and elsewhere in the constituency.

Specifically in Wetherby, one in five residents were not aware the government offers cold weather payments for people on income support and pension credits, and 50 per cent of Wetherby residents believe the government should do more to help pensioners in the winter months.

In Elmet and Rothwell as a whole, one in three pensioners are planning to ration their heating, despite the dangers of doing so.

More concerning, 25 per cent of local residents said they know an elderly neighbour, friend, or family member who will be cold inside their home this winter.

Half of pensioners are not aware of the grants available to them, and two thirds said they are not receiving any grants, despite all pensioners being eligible for winter fuel support.

Project manager at Wetherby in Support of the Elderly (WiSE) Neil Bellamy said: “There is an issue, though I wasn’t aware of these figures, but we do get phone calls through where our information and advice officer deals with people looking to reduce their fuel and energy bills and swap providers.

“The biggest problem for older people is swapping providers because if you stay with a provider for a long time you will pay more than those people who are able to swap.

“It can be quite a difficult process for an older person, and it means they will pay more fuel on their bills and they have to cut back elsewhere. Also, they will probably reduce the time they put their heating on, to save money.”

Mr Bellamy added: “We are aware that people are struggling. What WiSE provides is an information and advice officer which can help them to do that but we have winter warmer packs that we provide from Leeds City Council to give to people that are struggling.

“In that is a flask, a hot water bottle, some soup, and gloves, that we give out to the most needy.”

Over in the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency, 3,794 households are living in fuel poverty according to the Safegas research.

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