Support for Residents in Fuel Poverty
Councillors will next week be asked to endorse a strategy aimed at tackling fuel poverty - an issue which affects thousands of residents in South Tyneside.
Members of South Tyneside's Cabinet will be told that around almost 14 per cent (9,700) households in the Borough are estimated to be living in fuel poverty which is slightly higher than the national average. However, these statistics are based on research carried out before the costs-of-living crisis and spiralling inflation.
A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if it has to spend a high proportion of its income to keep their home at a reasonable temperature.
Using a partnership approach, the strategy seeks to tackle the three main causes of fuel poverty - low household income, the energy efficiency standard of a home and energy costs. The first of these will be addressed by helping residents to maximise their household's income, manage their money and reduce excessive bills.
Improving the energy efficiency of homes is the most cost-effective and long-term solution to tackling fuel poverty. Improving home energy efficiency not only reduces the rate and risk of fuel poverty, but also reduces carbon emissions, cuts winter deaths and improves health and wellbeing while encouraging behavioural change is the best approach to cutting energy consumption.
Tackling digital exclusion will be a core element of the strategy, together with a proposed reduction in the use of pre-payment meters which are generally more expensive. Providing people with the right digital skills and resources will enable them to access cheaper, online tariffs.
The strategy will help the Council deliver on its ambitions of helping to make residents financially secure, well and healthy throughout their lives and targeting support to make things fairer.
Councillor Paul Dean, Lead Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Equalities, said: "There has never been a more crucial time to take effective action against fuel poverty.
"The pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have served to exacerbate poverty in some of our communities and it is shocking that people are having to choose between eating and heating.
"We are committed to doing all we can to prevent, reduce and alleviate fuel poverty. This will help our residents to live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives."
The strategy will be discussed at the meeting of Cabinet on 6 September.