Region has one of UK’s highest rates of fuel poverty

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YORKSHIRE has one of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the country, according to new figures.

More than 17 per cent of Yorkshire households spent at least ten per cent of their income on keeping their homes warm in 2011, the latest figures available, although this was a small fall on the previous year.

Only the North-East and East Midlands have higher rates.

Across the UK, the number of households in fuel poverty fell from 4.75 million families in 2010 to 4.5 million in 2011.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “I am very encouraged by this modest fall in the number of households living in fuel poverty.

“But there is absolutely no room for complacency. There is still an unacceptably high number of people living in cold, damp, unhealthy conditions.

“However after years of year-on-year growth in the number of fuel-poor households we are starting to make progress, but the coalition Government is determined to do even more.

“While we can’t control volatile international energy prices, which always have the potential to undermine progress, it is clear that our determined focus on improving home energy efficiency is proving a highly effective weapon in this battle.”

The Government said the fall in the figures was down to a rise in incomes among low earners and improved home energy efficiency.

The figures published yesterday suggest that among Yorkshire families struggling to pay their energy bills the average shortfall is £430.

The 60 to 74 age group represents more than a quarter of households in fuel poverty.

Maria Wardrobe, director of external affairs at the charity National Energy Action, said: “While the figures appear to show some limited progress, fuel poverty figures for 2013 and 2012 have not been released and are still unclear.

“Last year the Government estimated that price rises in the latter part of 2011 would have led to an increase of around 400,000 households in 2012 in England.

“What is certain however is that this remains a serious problem which can only be addressed by the Government implementing a coherent, efficient and adequately-funded fuel poverty strategy.”

The charity is campaigning for a significant improvement in improving the energy efficiency of homes and is calling for all revenues the Government earns from carbon taxes to be put into a range of measures it argues could reduce household fuel poverty by 90 per cent.