£100m fuel benefits not claimed in Lincolnshire

Proper loft insulation can help county residents save on energy bills

Despite more than a quarter of homes in Lincolnshire live in fuel poverty, more than £100 million is not claimed in benefits each year.

The figures come from a group of county councillors who are looking at ways to tackle fuel poverty in Lincolnshire.

The latest estimates suggest that there was a 32% increase in the number of households in fuel poverty solely due to energy price rises last year.

A report with 10 recommendations to address the issues will be presented to the County Council’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee on April 27.

Chairman of the committee, Councillor Colin Davie, said: “The problem of fuel poverty is exceptionally serious here in Lincolnshire.

“We face huge challenges, especially in the more rural and coastal areas where people are less likely to be connected to the main gas supply.

“Living in cold and damp conditions can have an impact on health, and lead to difficult choices to ‘heat or eat’.

“There is a national correlation between poorly heated homes, the vulnerable and excess winter deaths,” Councillor Davie added.

The report’s recommendations focus on co-ordination and partnership working, improving existing housing stock, data collection and lobbying.

Councillor Davie explained: “What is crucial, for me, is finding ways to make sure people access the benefits they are fully entitled to – more than £100 million is not claimed in Lincolnshire each year.

“This would go some way towards helping people stay warm and hopefully not worry so much, and also means they can access government schemes designed to tackle fuel poverty.

“Also the standard of private sector housing needs to be improved.

“Older properties do have more solid walls, which are harder and more costly to insulate, but this does need to happen.

“More than 14,000 households here benefited from the excellent HELP scheme, a great example of different organisations working together to better insulate homes, so that energy consumption falls along with people’s energy bills.”

Source: Lincolnshire County Council