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Fears over East Lancashire fuel poverty rise
3:01pm Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
NEW fuel poverty figures have revealed East Lancashire residents have been left out in the cold, prompting welfare fears.
The data, published in the latest release from the Department of Energy and Climate Change showed that three local authorities in the region were in the top 20 rated as having the worst fuel poverty rates in the whole country.
Rankings of the 329 councils placed Pendle, Burnley and Hyndburn among the worst affected, with between 15 and 17 per cent of residents spending unsustainable amounts of more than 10 per cent of their income on heating their home.
Blackburn, Rossendale and even the more wealthy Ribble Valley were all within the 80 worst ranked authorities.
The worrying statistics have prompted deep concerns from Citizen Advice Bureaux, saying that fuel poverty increased physical and mental health risks and would only get worse under new universal credits.
The news also follows Labour leader Ed Milliband’s pledge to freeze gas and electricity bills for every home and business in the UK for 20 months if his party won the 2015 election.
CAB service supervisor for Hyndburn Paul Harding said: “In our experience fuel poverty worsens mental and physical health problems and can lead to people either going without food or electricity for days at a time especially if they receive benefits which are only paid every two weeks.
“I think this problem will only be exacerbated when the switch to universal credit goes ahead which could leave people going without these things for the last week of every month according to our forecasts.
“Payment rates can be set at whatever level the energy company likes regardless of ability to pay and as we have seen in previous winters lack of ability to pay will soon start to prove fatal again.”
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