Energy crisis: South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard says Government ‘missing in action’ as bills rocket
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Visiting a home retrofitting scheme in Barnsley on Friday, the day Ofgem revealed how much energy bills will rise in the autumn, Oliver Coppard said ministers are letting down households struggling to make ends meet.
The effect of the new quarterly price cap coming in from October means that bills could soar to £3,549 per year for an average household – up 80 percent from the last price cap rise.
South Yorkshire is particularly vulnerable to increasing energy costs, as almost one in five families in the region are already in fuel poverty, struggling to meet the costs of running and heating their homes.
Retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient can cut energy bills by a quarter.
Mr Coppard said: “Rocketing energy prices and rising inflation are already inflicting real misery on many people here in South Yorkshire, even before Friday’s announcement.
“We have some of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the country and workers here are paid almost £2 an hour less than the national average.
“Years of austerity and chronic underinvestment in our economy have left us less resilient to weather the shocks facing us this winter.
“Meanwhile, we have a Government missing in action, whose ideas have run out, which has no plan to help people through the next few months and beyond.
‘Create greener, warmer homes’
“I visited one of the schemes in Barnsley led by the council and it was encouraging to see the work going into helping struggling households and tenants to make improvements to their homes and bring their energy bills down.
“These sorts of schemes should be scaled up at pace across the country; not only to save people money, but to create greener, warmer homes and help us decarbonise our region.”
Barnsley Council is retrofitting privately-owned and council housing stock across the borough and delivering a solar home scheme on council housing to cut energy bills.
The schemes aim to upgrade the energy efficiency of houses by installing insulation to walls, lofts and underfloor using funding from the Green Homes Grant initiative.
The funding ends in March 2023 and so people are encouraged to come forward and apply.
Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “We know that the rising cost of living is a real and serious issue for people across Barnsley and across the country.
“We’re really pleased that funding has been made available to make homes as energy efficient as possible, helping to bring energy bills down in a time when many people are seeing their bills go up.
“It’s also a step in the right direction as we work towards carbon net-zero as a council by 2040, and across the borough by 2045.
“As the cost of living crisis continues, we’d welcome more schemes like this across South Yorkshire and nationally with a clear funded strategy from Government, helping to cut costs for households and create more sustainable housing.”
The South Yorkshire mayoral authority has already announced an initial £2.6m scheme for Doncaster.