Thousands in Leeds pushed into poverty

Around 2.5 million homes in England were in fuel poverty in 2015, a slight rise on the previous year, official statistics show. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Around 2.5 million homes in England were in fuel poverty in 2015, a slight rise on the previous year, official statistics show. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
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More than 40,000 households in Leeds have been pushed below the poverty line and struggled to pay their fuel bills, new figures show.

Nationwide, around 2.5m households were enduring fuel poverty in 2015, the latest Government statistics show, including 43,871 - more than 13 per cent of homes - in Leeds.

Levels of fuel poverty, measured as facing high bills and low incomes, were highest in the private rented sector where more than a fifth of households faced an average shortfall of £410 to pay their bills.

And in Yorkshire, while the greatest number affected were in communities in Bradford and Kirklees, one in 10 households in traditionally affluent York and Harrogate were struggling.

Peter Smith, director of policy and research at anti-fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA), said it was “hugely disappointing” to see fuel poverty in England continue to rise.

“Sadly we think cold homes needlessly kill up to 80 people per day in the winter months. This is not acceptable in the fifth largest economy in the world,” he said, calling for UK-wide resources to stop “tragic winter deaths” and a joint ministerial summit on health and fuel poverty. Cold homes also cause untold havoc to our national health services.”

A Government spokesman said it was “committed” to tackling fuel poverty and support worth £770m is helping to decrease the gap: “The best long-term solution is to improve energy efficiency which is bringing the cost of heating homes down, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

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