More Richmondshire residents are living in fuel poverty, a campaign group has warned.
Warm and Well in North Yorkshire says it has seen a “huge increase” in people needing emergency support with energy bills and seeking advice about what to do after their supplier has gone bust.
The organisation is run by Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire and funded by North Yorkshire County Council and campaigns for warm, dry homes across the region and supports people in fuel poverty.
Experts say this is a direct result of rising energy prices and the cost of living, and it is likely to get worse with the average family predicted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) to be £1,700 worse off in 2022 and the inflation rate rising to 4.6 per cent by Christmas.
Energy bills had already climbed from an average of £1,138 a year to £1,277 a year from last month under the energy regulator’s price cap, which is used to limit price rises for 11 million homes that pay for a standard dual-fuel tariff by direct debit.
In addition to this, 26 UK energy suppliers have gone bust in 2021 affecting 4.3m households.
The energy crisis could cost each home in the UK an extra £120 to cover the expense of dozens of energy supplier collapses this winter, which would plunge thousands of households in North Yorkshire into fuel poverty for the first time.
Warm and Well in North Yorkshire coordinator Julia Priestnall said: “We are joining our partners NEA (National Energy Action) in raising awareness about Fuel Poverty across the region as part of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.
“NEA have predicted that there is likely to be a £550 a year increase for a typical standard tariff dual fuel customer by April 2022 and this will have a devastating effect on many families in North Yorkshire.
“The perfect storm of a lack of cheaper tariffs, energy firms going bust, cold weather and rises in the costs of living and energy bills has put more people in North Yorkshire at risk of fuel poverty than in the last 20 years.
“We are urging families who are worried about themselves, loved ones, friends and neighbours especially in rural areas to get in touch as soon as possible so we can stop people having to choose between keeping warm and well and putting food on the table.”
Julia added: “We are also advising an increasing number of people who have had their energy supplier go bust. It is really important to take meter readings if you can, collect any old bills and take note of any energy debt or credit you may have as soon as possible.
“It is also important to wait for the energy regulator Ofgem to contact you to tell you who your new supplier will be before switching tariffs as you may end worse off in the long run and this is something our energy specialists can help with.
“It is really important to check if people are entitled to the warm homes discount and we are here to help people in fuel poverty emergencies, if they are unable to top up their pre-payment meters for example.”
If you need support from Warm and Well in North Yorkshire or are at risk from fuel poverty, contact them today on 01609 767 555 or make a referral online at https://www.warmandwell.org.uk/Referral-Form