Fuel Poverty – coping with an impossible situation.

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Coping with an impossible situation: How organisations and individuals are struggling to respond to the fuel poverty crisis in Greater Manchester
By Anna Lopez, GMPA Policy & Research Assistant

The cost-of-living crisis is forcing ever greater numbers of people into fuel poverty. In Greater Manchester  (GM)and across the UK, skyrocketing energy and food prices are impacting on individuals on low incomes and the organisations that seek to support them.

GMPA’s new report, published last week, explores the impacts of rising fuel poverty across the city region. It relies on research collected over the latest winter and seeks to lay bare the extent of fuel poverty in GM. Its findings include that fuel poverty appears to be rising across the city region, with demand for support increasing significantly since the same period last year; high energy costs are negatively impacting the daily lives and health of people living on low incomes in GM and organisations that provide support to people on low incomes in GM are unable to meet demand, with the majority surveyed being forced to turn people away due to a lack of capacity or resources.

Fuel poverty -warm this winter infographics for GM Poverty ActionRising Fuel Poverty  
From our survey we found that 77% of those working for organisations supporting people in poverty said their organisation was unable to meet all the requests for help that it received due to limited capacity or resources. Many also reported difficulties referring clients to other providers which could support them. As a results, people in need of support risk being bounced between organisations, further increasing barriers to accessing help.

Impacts of Fuel Poverty 
Our research suggests that rising energy bills have significant impacts on low income households. Research participants spoke of fuel poverty impacting on their daily lives and mental and physical health. Among the effects listed were pervasive worry and stress, constant cold, difficulty sleeping and physical tension. Rising bills also impacted on some participants’ ability to afford ‘little extras’, such as days out with their children or celebrating holidays in the way they would have liked to.

Recommendations for local and national government
This report aims not only to explore the challenges facing people on low incomes and the organisations that support them, but also to consider ways forward. These recommendations, advised by survey respondents and focus group participants, focus on immediate financial support to households, improved signposting of places to access help and a wider strategic focus on poverty at a local and national level.

In addition, the report suggested a number of specific priorities for local and national government to tackle fuel poverty.

Fuel poverty -warm this winter infographics for GM Poverty Action

Priorities for Local Authorities

  • Direct financial support for individuals.
  • Council co-ordination of VCSE sector delivered support in GM.
  • Improved signposting to advice and support.
  • Ensuring council support is accessible without internet access.
  • Provision of welfare rights and debt advice.

Priorities for National Government

  • Direct financial support for individuals.
  • Cap on energy prices.
  • Installation of energy saving measures in homes.
  • Alternative energy generation.
  • Provision of advice to households.
  • Regulation of the housing sector.

Rising fuel poverty is a significant issue across Greater Manchester, damaging the health and daily lives of people on low incomes while overstretching the VCSE sector in the city region. Despite the increases seen thus far, fuel poverty, and poverty in general, can be tackled, and there has never been a more urgent time to do so.


i3oz9sFuel Poverty – coping with an impossible situation.