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Thousands more households in Kent face fuel poverty

Campaigners are warning that the number of people struggling to meet high energy bills is set to spiral as figures show more than 65,000 households in Kent and Medway are already experiencing fuel poverty.

Analysis of figures compiled by the campaign group End Fuel Poverty show that in 2021, 55,308 households across Kent were experiencing difficulty meeting bills with the total rising to 65,715 when the figure for Medway was included.

Alexander Rourke from Thanet Iceberg Project

The data from End Fuel Poverty Coalition reveals Thanet is the worst affected area in the county, with 6,769 households in fuel poverty, representing 11% of the 64,157 households.

It was followed by Dover, where 10% of households - 5,146 - were struggling with meeting fuel costs.

In Canterbury, 5,721 of 65,602 households - 9% - were affected and in Swale the figure was 5,453 of 59,977 households, also 9%.

Even in more prosperous parts of the county, thousands are facing difficulty. In Tonbridge and Malling, the figure was 7% of households (3,614), with Tunbridge Wells at 8% (4,135) and Sevenoaks at 7% (3,383).

The government is being urged to set up an emergency fund to help tackle the looming crisis, with an alliance of 27 major charities calling for urgent action.

The government is being urged to set up an emergency fund to help tackle the looming crisis. Stock picture
The government is being urged to set up an emergency fund to help tackle the looming crisis. Stock picture

The charities, include Save the Children, Age UK, WWF, Green Alliance, Faith for the Climate, Tearfund and Greenpeace.

They say without urgent government action the energy price cap could be increased by £600 in April.

The number of households suffering from “fuel stress” is defined as those spending at least 10% of their family budgets on energy bills.

A spokesman for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition said: “Fuel poverty is a public health and social crisis but can only be solved by economic measures and the government must do everything possible to help people in crisis now while investing in energy efficiency programmes to fix the long-term problems.”

The average bill is set to jump from £1,277 to around £2,000 a year when the price cap is increased.

Thanet South MP Craig Mackinlay said: “We need a here-and-now range of measures; now whether that is at the lower end of income scale or something that is more broadly based; there should be a suspension in the green levies, if only for a short period. The government needs a new energy plan.”

Household bills will include the green levies to fund more renewable energy schemes.

The figures for people in fuel poverty for remaining parts of Kent were: Ashford: 3,994 (8%); Dartford: 3,232 (8%); Folkestone: 4,709 (9%); Gravesham: 4,104 (9%) and Maidstone: 5,298 (8%).

Meanwhile, a separate report suggests that across the south east, higher energy prices could treble the number of households in fuel poverty.

The think-tank the Resolution Foundation say April’s price rise will increase the number of households in fuel stress in the south east by over half a million - a trebling from 280,000 to 790,000.

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