Lib Dems demand support for Yorkshire communities hit by rocketing heating oil prices

People living in two areas of Yorkshire are among the most exposed to the rocketing costs of heating oil, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the party shows almost 20 per cent of households in Richmondshire use heating oil with 18 per cent in Hambleton.

Those figures put them both in the top 25 places in the country to rely on heating oil – with Mid Suffolk top at 29 per cent.

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Prices of heating oil have more than doubled to around 95p a litre, compared to 45p in August 2021.

Ed Davey wants better support for countryside communities.

It means the cost of heating oil for the average household is expected to soar by between £700 to £1,700 this year.

Off-grid gas homes often have higher heating costs due to heating oil, LPG or electric heating being more expensive than piped gas.

Families who heat their homes with heating oil or bottled gas also do not benefit from the Ofgem energy price cap.

Ahead of this Thursday’s local elections, the Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to introduce a “rural cost of living rescue package” to address some of the growing financial challenges facing countryside communities.

Their proposals would include a cap on heating oil costs to support the estimated 1.5 million homes off the gas grid, and bringing in an emergency tax cut – reducing VAT from 20 per cent to 17.5 per cent – which the party says could save families an average of £600 each. They say the VAT cut would save a motorist £48 a year on filling up their car.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling for a Community Ambulance Fund, to help reverse station closures in rural areas and cut ambulance wait times.

Party leader Sir Ed Davey said: “This Conservative government is leaving rural communities out in the cold through their stubborn refusal to help those facing soaring heating bills.

“People are being plunged into fuel poverty but instead of helping, the Conservatives are raising unfair taxes again and again.

“The Liberal Democrats are demanding a rescue package for rural areas, through a cap on heating oil prices and an emergency tax cut to save struggling families £600.

“We would set up an Ambulance Community Fund, so that if you have to call 999 you know they will be there.

“The local elections are a chance to send Boris Johnson a message that people in rural areas are fed up of being taken for granted.”

Sir Ed claimed: “Every vote for the Liberal Democrats will help elect a strong local champion who will fight for a fair deal for their community.”

Open market 'best for consumers'

Business Minister Greg Hands has said an open market for the supply of heating oil remains the best way to ensure competitive prices.

In a recent response to Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, Mr Hands said: “The Government believes it is essential that consumers of domestic fuels get a fair deal. 

“There is an open market for the supply of heating oil in the UK as we believe this provides the best long-term guarantee of competitive prices. A price cap is not necessary as consumers can shop around and switch supplier more easily than for gas and electricity.”

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