Sunderland communities in the top ten for “fuel poverty”

Bridget Phillipson, photographed for a feature on Domestic violence.
Bridget Phillipson, photographed for a feature on Domestic violence.
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WEARSIDERS are being left in “fuel poverty” after struggling to pay their heating bills.

A new campaign, called the Energy Bill Revolution, has produced a report saying that parts of Sunderland have the sixth highest percentage of people who are having trouble paying their bills in the region.

The report estimates that almost a quarter of all households in the Sunderland Central constituency are fuel poor.

Out of the 44,461 households in the area, it says that 10,382 of them are living in fuel poverty.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, has campaigned on the issue and previously wrote to the Chancellor George Osborne demanding the Government take action to support local people.

She said: “Families and pensioners across Wearside are facing real pressure due to rising fuel bills.

“Eighty-seven per cent of local people I recently surveyed said that they had been forced to make cutbacks elsewhere to meet these costs. This is unacceptable and Government must act.

“The current system is far too complex and many people simply can’t access the cheaper tariffs.”

Also on the list is Gateshead, which came third and Newcastle, which was eighth.

Janet Arthur, 72, of Thorney Close, said: “I have to budget very carefully. I would normally have expected to have turned my heating off by now but it’s so cold, it’s still running.”

Research for the Energy Bill Revolution has also revealed that fuel poverty could affect 9.1million households across the country by 2016, the year in which the Government has a target to eliminate fuel poverty.

Ed Matthew, director of Transform UK, the organisation which is co-ordinating the campaign said: “It is scandalous that anyone in a developed country should face the choice of whether to buy food or heat their home.

“From next year the Government will have the money to end the blight of fuel poverty. This is the most fair and just solution and we hope all MPs will join the 135 MPs who are currently supporting it.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7