A fifth of households in Blackburn with Darwen were in fuel poverty when the energy crisis began two years ago, new figures show.

Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show 10,978 households in Blackburn with Darwen were in fuel poverty in 2021 – 18.3 per cent of homes in the area.

Energy prices increased significantly towards the end of 2021 with many suppliers in the UK going out of business. By the end of December 2021, 28 energy companies had closed their doors.

The proportion of homes living in fuel poverty in Blackburn with Darwen was up from 2020, when 15.6 per cent of households struggled to heat their homes.

A household is considered to be fuel poor if they are living in a property with an energy efficiency rating of band D or below and their disposable income, after paying housing and energy costs, is below the official poverty line.

In March, a new phase of the Household Support Scheme was given the go ahead to carry on helping people with the rising cost of living.

The scheme currently gives support to people who are not eligible for income related benefits and who have not had any other government cost of living support to date.

The Government announced that the fund would be extended from April 2023 for a full year, and the package, for £3.2m for the next two years, was approved at the Council’s Executive Board in March.

Councillor Damian Talbot, public health boss at Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “We don’t know how long the cost of living crisis is going to go on, but it’s clear that many residents are struggling and will be for some time yet. 

“Continuing to support all our residents, including the most vulnerable, from the ongoing rising cost of living is vital to us, and so it is helpful that this fund will be extended for another year.”

National Energy Action said the data "only tells part of the story" as the energy crisis has worsened over the past two years.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, said increasing energy prices and falling income has pushed many into fuel poverty.

"Behind these figures are the stories of people we hear from every day. People in crisis, sacrificing hot meals or showers to afford a warm room, or forced to ration their energy despite it decimating their health," he said.

He added: "Yet, the two-year time lag on the data means we won’t know the full picture of the energy crisis until this time next year. The Government figures released today massively understate the current crisis."

Nationally, about 3.2 million households in England (13.1 per cent) were in fuel poverty two years ago.

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said the Government knows this has been a difficult time for families. It added this is why the government has covered "around half" of the typical household's energy bill over the winter.