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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Bradford at the epicentre of fuel poverty in UK research suggests

Research suggests that Bradford is at the epicentre of fuel poverty in the UK because of income deprivation and poorly insulated homes.

Data from the ONS suggests that Bradford is at the epicentre of fuel poverty in the UK.

Households in Bradford not only have some of England’s highest gas and electricity bills in the UK but have on average some of the lowest incomes.

Bradford is the most income-deprived city in Yorkshire and the 27th least affluent local authority in Britain with a third of all neighbourhoods across the Bradford district among the most deprived in the country, with most centred around the inner-city and Keighley.

Data suggests Bradford is at the epicentre of fuel poverty. Image: Shutterstock

The term ‘fuel poverty’ describes the interaction between low income, poor access to fuel company services, poorly insulated housing, and inefficient heating systems. While fuel poverty and poverty, in general, are closely related, there is a clear distinction.

Whilst most people on low incomes are likely to face difficulty in paying their fuel bills, ‘fuel poverty’ describes the hardship many people on low incomes face because they live in ‘hard to heat’ housing or run expensive, inefficient heating systems or other appliances, for example, fridges, cookers, washing machines, lighting.

This data comes at a time when utility bills are set to soar across the UK, with households expected to fork out on average an extra £693 a year in gas and electricity.

Around eighteen million households on standard tariffs will see an average increase of £693 – from £1,277 to £1,971 per year and around 4.5 million prepayment customers will see an average increase of £708 – from £1,309 to £2,017.

The government says it will offer extra help worth a total of £350. In April people in council tax bands A to D in England will receive a one-off £150 discount.

There is no option to opt-in or out of the rebate. Image: Phil Woodbridge.

In October households in England will receive a £200 rebate on their energy bills. Households will have to repay this at £40 a year for five years, starting in April 2023.

People who take energy bills out in their name after the discount is applied, say students or people living at home or having a change in circumstance, will also have to repay the rebate, even if they didn’t receive it.

Across Yorkshire, bills are expected to increase the most in Bradford than anywhere else. Statistics from the Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy show that people in Bradford will see a bigger year-on-year rise than in other areas.

In Bradford, bills are expected to go up by £912, more than in Kirklees (£885), Leeds (£851) and Sheffield (£844).

There are so many negative physical and mental health impacts resulting from living in a cold home.

According to the NHS, cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially if you are 65 or older, or if you have a long-term health condition.

Coldness in the home can cause serious circulatory diseases, which is one of the reasons why mortality rates are much worse in cold weather.

Consistent exposure to low temperatures causes the narrowing of blood vessels, which can lead to increased blood pressure, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Older homes in Yorkshire are harder and more expensive to insulate, leading to higher bills. Image: JThomas.

At its worst, exposure to extreme cold can lead to life-threatening diseases such as hypothermia.

Coldness is also damaging to mental health. Living for a prolonged period in a cold home makes people more likely to develop mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Part of the reason Bradford is the most impacted by fuel poverty is the way homes in Yorkshire are built and the intersection of low income. Many homes are built in a way that makes them difficult to heat, and the way they have been converted can make that problem worse.

Speaking to Sky News, Professor of environment and society at Leeds University, Lucie Middlemiss, explained why people in Bradford are the most impacted by fuel poverty. She said: “If your house was built before the 1950s, it’s likely your house will have just one outer wall.

“If you do not have a wall cavity, you can’t insulate it. If you have converted your loft to an extra bedroom, you can’t insulate that either.

“You can pay to insulate on the outside – external wall insulation – but it’s expensive and it changes the aesthetic of the home. It’s about £10,000 for a three-bed so the government grants don’t cover it.”

Asian Standard has approached Bradford Council for a comment. Check back regularly for updates.

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