A HARROGATE charity has “switched on” its new campaign offering a lifeline to the growing number of unpaid carers in the grip of fuel poverty – as new figures reveal that as many as 80 lives may be lost across the district as a result.
The initiative launched by Carers’ Resource has a stark message – “Eat or Heat”. But the hard-hitting theme is designed to highlight how spiralling gas and electric bills are adding to the plight of those looking after loved ones across the district.
Latest research reveals that around one-in-five households in the Harrogate district suffer from fuel poverty – when at least 10 per cent of income is spent on fuel.
In some of the more deprived communities, this figure more than doubles to almost 40 per cent of households. In the face of a tough economic climate, and forecasts of a bitterly-cold winter ahead, there are fears that this situation will only worsen. It is estimated by pressure group National Energy Action that fuel poverty could claim 80 Harrogate lives this winter
The Carers’ Resource, based in North Park Road, Harrogate, and Allhallowgate, Ripon, also aims to raise awareness of the help and advice that is available to carers who are facing an unprecedented struggle to make ends meet this winter.
Its Head of Development, Anna Jackson, said:
Carers and those they look after are often the hardest hit by rising energy costs, as they grapple with balancing lower household incomes and higher living costs than the average family.
This can lead to worsening mental and physical health, mounting debt, plus having to make dreadful decisions when they get up every morning – such as whether to turn on the heating or put food on the table.
We are determined to ease the hardship encountered on a daily basis by this vulnerable group. We are reaching out to an increasing number of carers to help them switch to cheaper tariffs or suppliers, and advising them on how to make their energy consumption more efficient.
The charity is lobbying local MPs and councillors to seek their support for its campaign to make carers eligible in their own right for a payment under the new Warm Homes Discount Scheme
And it is using Carers’ Rights Day on December 2 as a platform for raising further awareness of the plight of carers.
Ms Jackson said carers had unique needs – and these had to be reflected in the new scheme, which replaces Social Tariff handouts. She added:
People with limited mobility need more heat to keep warm, continence or other disability-related conditions can mean washing mountains; and very poorly babies may need equipment running 24 hours a day to keep them stable.
Others who are housebound will be using gas and electricity in many different ways round-the-clock.
Excess winter deaths winter 2008/09 in the Yorkshire & Humber region:
- Barnsley 90
- Doncaster 300
- Rotherham 200
- Sheffield 360
- Kingston upon Hull, City of 190
- East Riding of Yorkshire 300
- North East Lincolnshire 160
- North Lincolnshire 160
- York 170
- Craven 50
- Hambleton 70
- Harrogate 120
- Richmondshire 30
- Ryedale 40
- Scarborough 70
- Selby 70
- Bradford 180
- Calderdale 100
- Kirklees 170
- Leeds 430
- Wakefield 210
Source: Office for National Statistics
For the full report see http://www.nea.org.uk/assets/Yorkshire-Humber-FP-Briefing-2.pdf