Thousands of north London families could fall into fuel poverty this winter

A generic stock photo of an elderly lady with her electric fire on at home in Liverpool.

Camden Federation of Private Tenants says pensioners are bracing themselves for a cold winter - Credit: PA

Thousands of north London families may fall into fuel poverty and struggle to heat their homes this winter, official data suggests. 

Government data shows that nationally, 3.2 million households (13.4%) were estimated to be fuel poor in 2019.

"Fuel poverty" is when households live in a property with low energy efficiency and are pushed below the poverty line by housing costs and the energy bills needed to have a warm, well-lit home.

Robert Taylor from the Camden Federation of Private Tenants called the expected rise of families falling into fuel poverty this year "shocking".

Robert told the Ham&High: “Every Autumn, our older members in particular, who often live in old, poorly heated and insulated homes, brace themselves for higher energy bills and uncomfortable months ahead. 

“However, this year, with the expected spike in energy prices and the ending of the £20 Universal Credit uplift, we now expect other parts of our membership to be feeling equally anxious and worried as to what the next few months will bring – especially if we have a cold winter." 


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Government statistics show that, since 2009, the number of pensioners receiving support from the government to tackle fuel poverty has significantly reduced. 

Winter Fuel Payments (WFP) were introduced in 1997 for households with someone receiving a state pension, and these homes are entitled to a tax-free sum of between £100 and £300 each year towards their heating bill. 

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Haringey households have seen a 10% decrease in fuel grants since 2009, with almost 3,000 fewer families receiving WFP. 

The borough has the 17th highest proportion of households living in fuel poverty out of 312 local authorities across the UK, with 18% of all homes affected. 

A generic stock photo of an elderly lady adjusting her thermostat on at home in Liverpool.

The number of government Winter Fuel Payments have significantly declined since 2009. - Credit: PA

Of Westminster’s 112,567 households, 15,260 live in fuel poverty (13.6%), and there has been a 19% decrease in WFP since 2009. 

The borough has the eighth highest decrease of the payments out of 360 local authorities in the UK. 

Of the 144,912 households in Barnet, 19,175 live in fuel poverty.

There has been an 11% decrease in the number of WFP made since 2009, with 51,750 payments made in 2019/20 compared to 57,930 the previous decade. 

In Camden, 14,279 households out of 104,052 live in fuel poverty, meaning 13.7% may struggle this winter. 

The borough has seen a 14% decrease in WFP since 2009, when 27,470 households received the subsidy compared to 23,510 last year. 

Support

For support and advice, there are several north London organisations available:

Call the free-phone Green Camden Helpline for advice and tips on saving energy, changing fuel tariff/ suppliers, dealing with fuel debt and more. You can call the Green Camden Helpline for free on 0800 801 738 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm).

Haringey Council has partnered with the SHINE London energy advice service to help residents keep well and warm and reduce the anxiety of paying for large fuel bills. Contact SHINE on 0300 555 0195 or contact@shine-london.org.uk

Camden Age UK offers advice on accessing benefits, housing and other services. Contact the Information and Advice Service by phone: 020 7837 3777, 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday, 
or by email: duty@ageukcamden.org.uk

Haringey Community Mental Health Team for Older People offers support for people over 65 experiencing mental health difficulties. Call the team on 020 8702 6300

Contact Citizen's Advice to get support from highly trained volunteers and help with accessing foodbank vouchers. Find out more at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Call the Samaritans for free on 116 123.

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