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Rural residents fear fuel poverty

Crippling fuel bills mean many rural householders are too scared to put their heating on.

More than three in ten Britons – many of them in rural areas – are too worried to heat their own homes, according to the study.

Millions of consumers are facing a fuel poverty crisis this year, with 32% saying they will struggle to heat their homes this winter.

A further 43% say the cost of heating their house forces them to think twice before turning it on.

Some 16% of those surveyed by Solarplicity, said they spent more than 10% of their monthly income on fuel – the official yardstick of fuel poverty.

Meanwhile, a further 32% said they often found themselves facing a fuel poverty “crisis” depending on how much money they had earned that month.

Rural areas are particularly prone to fuel poverty because incomes are lower and houses are more difficult to heat.

Many homes are older than their urban equivalents – and are frequently hard to insulate.

Almost half of those polled (48%) said they knew at least one person who would struggle to afford to keep their home warm this winter.

Of those, 94% said they were concerned about their welfare.

Fuel poverty in local communities is investigated by the organisation Community Energy England (CEE).

CEE chief executive Emma Bridge said 40% of those surveyed said had never spoken to a fuel poverty outreach worker to help with their heating issues.

She added: "It is important that vulnerable people don’t feel stigmatised about asking for help and that help is readily available locally.

"Cold living conditions can promote cardiovascular illness and condensation damp related respiratory illness.

"In Britain in 2017, this preventable health risk to the most vulnerable in society is not acceptable."

A further 30 percent say they feel worried, unhappy and even depressed when they receive a heating bill.

The survey also revealed that six in ten people claim they simply don’t trust the “Big Six" energy companies to be transparent about how much they charge.

Two thirds of people polled (67%) thought the Big Six companies were only interested in profit, while 65% said they continually put up prices and they never told customers if they were on the wrong tariff.

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