Families facing a stark choice this winter: To heat or to eat?

Today the Reporter Series is launching a campaign - Keep Us Warm This Winter - committing to stand up for our communities as they face one of the toughest winters yet.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 7:00 am
Many households are facing a steep rise in their energy bills. Photo: Getty Images

We pledge to provide our readers with the information they need about the fuel crisis, and keep them up to date with developments and ways to ensure they can cope with the months ahead.

We will put pressure on Government to ensure no vulnerable families find themselves without heating this winter, and demand extra payments to those families to cover the excess heating charges.

Fears are growing that soaring energy prices will see families in North Kirklees forced to choose between keeping warm and putting food on the table.

The Reporter Series is launching a campaign - Keep Us Warm This Winter - committing to stand up for our communities as they face one of the toughest winters yet

Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood has pledged to do all he can to support constituents who are experiencing difficulties with their energy bills.

He said: “I appreciate that high global gas prices are very concerning for customers in Dewsbury and Mirfield.

“In October 2020, the Government extended the energy price cap until at least the end of 2021. As a result, 15 million households across the UK will continue to be protected from overcharging on their energy bills.

“However, the energy price cap is set by the energy regulator Ofgem, which reviews it every six months to reflect changes in the cost of supplying energy.

"In light of current wholesale energy prices and unpaid bills, Ofgem has now decided to raise the price cap.

“Although those protected by the energy price cap are paying a fair price, customers may also be able to reduce their energy bills further by shopping around for a better deal.

“Changing energy provider has never been easier, and switching energy can be done online or over the phone. Comparison sites provide helpful information on which providers can give customers the best deal.

“I am pleased that the Government continues to protect consumers. The Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments will continue supporting millions of vulnerable and low-income households with their energy bills.

“If any constituents require support in accessing these, please reach out to me by emailing [email protected] or telephone 01924 939007, and I will support you as best I can.”

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater said: “What worries me most is that in the coming months, with energy and food prices rocketing, taxes going up and essential benefits cut, the price of Boris Johnson’s failures will be even greater hardship and anxiety for the working people of Batley and Spen.”

Charities across the district who help the area’s most vulnerable are bracing themselves for a steep rise in demand for their support.

They fear the financial and mental strains of the pandemic will only be exacerbated by these latest challenges.

Age Concern Calderdale and Kirklees chief executive, Lisa Butland, said: “Lots of older people will have seen the reports about the possibility of energy shortages and price hikes.

“We urge them to keep their homes adequately warm as we head into winter.

"If they are struggling to pay their energy bills or repay a debt, it is the energy company’s duty to help, so it’s worth getting in touch with them.

“Age UK can also help you by checking you are receiving all the financial help you are entitled to.

“Our office number is 01422 252040.”