Keep Us Warm This Winter: Energy crisis campaign launched

There are fears thousands of Northumberland families could struggle to put food on the table this winter due to soaring energy prices.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 7:00 am

Many are due to come off fixed price energy contracts or cheap deals this autumn, which could lead to increases of up to 50 per cent in their bills.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admitted this week that some people could be forced to choose between eating, or heating their homes, and there will be little respite in the spring because economists are predicting further surges in gas and electricity prices, along with big tax increases on earnings from April.

Our titles in Northumberland are therefore promising to spend the next few weeks giving our readers all the information they need about the current fuel crisis. We will also aim to keep people up-to-date with developments and provide crucial advice so households can cope.

Concerns have been raised about rising utility bills and food prices.

We also working with other JPI Media newspapers across the UK to put pressure on the government to ensure no vulnerable families find themselves without heating this winter, and will demand extra payments for those families to cover the excess heating charges.

Latest figures show that out of 146,167 households in Northumberland, 20,640 are in fuel poverty – 14% of the population. In Newcastle and County Durham it is 16%, and in South Tyneside it is 15%.

Fuel poverty is when someone cannot afford to adequately heat their home.

Citizens Advice Northumberland have been helping people cope with falling incomes since the start of the pandemic.

Laura Ratcliffe, energy advice service manager, said: "This latest news, coinciding with the end of the Universal Credit uplift and energy price cap rises, will put additional strain on a huge number of households already struggling to afford essential household costs.

"It's a worrying situation as we head towards the colder winter months, so it’s important that people know where and how they can access additional help.

“We've also seen a number of smaller energy suppliers collapse in recent weeks. Anyone affected by this should wait to be appointed a new supplier by Ofgem rather than rush to switch suppliers straight away, as this may make things more complicated in the long run.

"Once confirmation of the new supplier is received, consumers can then look to compare deals and consider switching if they so wish. We have specialist energy advisers on hand to assist, if people are worried or confused about this."

Amy Whyte, head of charitable services and operations at Age UK Northumberland, added: “We are extremely concerned about the impact that rising fuel bills will have on over 50s living in Northumberland.”

She added: "These are very difficult and uncertain times and we urge anyone who is concerned about the cost of heating and running their home to get in touch with our information and advice team, who can provide support finding the most economical deal, complete a benefits check to ensure that you are accessing the financial support that you’re entitled to and provide fuel saving advice.”

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