By Andrew Pinches, Groundwork Greater Manchester
Fuel poverty affects a significant proportion of the UK population and is associated with negative effects on both physical and mental health. It is currently estimated that approximately two and a half million households in the UK live in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is measured using the Low Income High Cost (LIHC) indicator, which considers a household to be fuel poor if:
• they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level of £1,378); and
• were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the poverty line.
Greater Manchester currently has the highest number of households in fuel poverty in the North West, with Gorton currently having the highest percentage of households in fuel poverty (20.5%) in the UK. It can also be noted that more than 80% of Greater Manchester’s parliamentary constituencies sit above the national average for proportion of households in fuel poverty.
One of the main issues in GM currently is that 80% of the houses in use are over 40 year’s old and deemed energy inefficient. As energy efficiency is a driver for fuel poverty, low income families in Manchester are already in danger of fuel poverty from just moving into an energy inefficient home
It can be seen from this graphic, that that there are 3 main drivers for fuel poverty: Energy efficiency, energy prices and income. If a household has high energy bills, low income and an energy inefficient house then they will more than likely be classified as fuel poor.
Improving any one of these parameters can help bring a household out of fuel poverty and alleviate the associated stresses.
Energyworks supports the residents of Greater Manchester with all three drivers of fuel poverty:
• Energy Prices – Providing support and tailored advice with switching tariffs and providers, helping set up affordable payment plans and supporting residents with energy debt to find affordable solutions.
• Energy Efficiency – With the installation of FREE small measures such as low energy lighting (LED bulbs), draught-proofing and the installation of radiator panels, residents can use less energy to achieve the same level of heating and lighting in their homes. Larger measures, including Cavity Wall Insulation, Loft insulation and Boiler Replacement, are also available through grants for eligible residents.
• Income – Through trusted partners, referrals can be made to secure additional income for low income families through increased or additional benefits, grants for essential items/white goods and food and fuel vouchers.
Energyworks is funded at both national and local level with funders such as Ofgem, LEAP and the Local Authorities across GM. Having multiple funders at all levels allows us to go that extra mile for customers ensuring that we give the best possible tailored service to every person. Each customer we speak to is also offered an information pack that they can refer back to at their leisure.
For details of fuel poverty across Greater Manchester by Local Authority and LSOA, please refer to GMPA’s Poverty Monitor