Cost of living crisis: Help promised for South Tyneside families struggling with fuel and heating bills as Ukraine conflict expected to push costs higher
Councillors have pledged to help tackle fuel poverty in South Tyneside as the cost of living crisis deepens.
According to the latest figures, almost 15% of households in South Tyneside are believed to be living in fuel poverty, a number which has increased in recent years.
This compares to national and regional averages of 13.4% and 14.8% respectively.
Experts in the borough have warned this is likely to be worsened by “significant increases in energy prices” believed to be on the horizon thanks to the Ukraine conflict and other issues in global markets.
And it has prompted calls from leaders at South Tyneside Council for better public education on available support.
“Things are going to get worse, and the more information that councillors have got to hand, the more opportunities we’ll have to help the residents of this borough,” Cllr Jim Foreman, cabinet member for housing and transport, told Wednesday’s (March 9) meeting of the council’s Housing Performance Panel.
“As a full council we need to sit down and look at all the options we have to try to help the poorest in this borough and to try and help the neediest in this time and in the future, because it’s going to get worse.”
A draft strategy being prepared by local authority chiefs aims to include advice on maximising household income, with officers warning if residents can’t afford to heat their home, they are likely to not be able to afford other basic needs.
Cllr Joan Keegan, who chaired the meeting, said: “We need to point residents in the right direction, lots of people don’t know, so I think people need to be pro-actively getting it out to residents where to go and who to contact.”
Targets also include improving energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption to meet net zero targets.
Bosses have previously promised measures to tackle poverty in the borough, although thousands of households face missing out on a £150 council tax rebate as they are yet to sign up to a direct debit for payments.
A cross departmental working group is planned to focus on the issue and develop a directory of the services and support available to households.
More information on accessing support can be found at https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/38256/Your-home-in-winter