Areas of the Midlands and Yorkshire have topped an unwelcome league table of fuel poverty.
New data projections from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition reveal that the fuel poverty crisis gripping the country is affecting some areas worse than others.
With the increase in energy bills coming into effect on 1 April 2022, over 6.3m households (27% of homes in England) will wake up in fuel poverty that morning.
In parts of the Bushbury South and Low Hill area of Wolverhampton, the situation is even more severe where 88% of households will be in fuel poverty from 1 April.
But Wolverhampton, which was recognised in the Government’s Levelling Up white paper, is not alone in seeing the vast majority of homes in fuel poverty.
The Washwood Heath area of Birmingham, the Castle & Priory ward of Dudley, the Shelton area of Stoke and the area near Smethwick Galton Bridge in Sandwell will also all see fuel poverty levels soar to over 80% of homes.
While these areas are among the highest levels of fuel poverty in the country, in terms of Parliamentary constituencies Birmingham Hodge Hill (55% of households in fuel poverty from 1 April 2022) tops the league table.
This is followed by Barking (48%), Stoke on Trent Central (47%), Wolverhampton South East (47%), Walthamstow (47%) and Birmingham Yardley (47%).
And in a blow to the Government’s levelling up agenda, “red wall” Tory MPs will be feeling the heat from constituents forced into fuel poverty by prices which were spiralling before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In Stoke Central, where Conservative MP Jo Gideon was elected, the number of homes in fuel poverty has doubled from 9,275 in 2019 to an estimated 18,463 in 2022.
Fellow Tories in Wolverhampton North East (Jane Stevenson MP), Walsall North (Eddie Hughes MP), Stoke on Trent North (Jonathan Gullis MP) and West Bromwich East (Nicola Richards MP) have also seen the numbers of constituents in fuel poverty rapidly increase since the 2019 election. 
Rachael Williamson, Head of Policy at Chartered Institute of Housing, said:
The Government’s ambition to ‘level up’ is being undermined by its inaction in meaningfully tackling fuel poverty. We need clear, long-term plans to tackle homes with poor energy efficiency, especially in the private sector, and financial support to address the gap in the meantime. Without this we will see many more households and families plunged into poverty. This was an issue before the invasion of Ukraine but is quickly becoming a real crisis.
Barking & Dagenham remains the local authority with the highest levels of fuel poverty after 1 April 2022 (44.7% of households) and while the West Midlands and Yorkshire continue to dominate the top ten, it is not just cities that suffer.
Around a third of households in market town Kings Lynn and rural West Norfolk will be in fuel poverty (33.8%), as will similar numbers in North East Lincolnshire (33.2%), Herefordshire (32.9%) and Shropshire (32.8%).
On the Chancellor’s home turf, 14,000 households in his constituency of Richmond (Yorks) will be in fuel poverty, with the numbers in wider Richmondshire also among the worst in rural England (32.3%).
Paul Dixon, Rural Evidence Manager at Action with Communities in Rural England, commented:
Rural residents have some of the hardest to heat homes. Additionally, about a million households rely on heating oil which has increased in price by more than three times since the same period last year. Government must recognise and address the particular vulnerabilities of people in this situation.
William Baker, of Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty, said:
Local authorities will need to step up to tackle the tsunami of fuel poverty that will hit them over the next few months. We urge them to take coordinated action across local services, particularly through improving energy efficiency standards, providing income maximisation advice and protecting private rented sector tenants. And the Government must provide them with the resources to do this.
A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said:
Energy prices were rocketing before the Russian invasion of Ukraine as this data shows. Since 2019 households across the country have been feeling the squeeze as the implications of the Government’s inaction on fuel poverty have been realised.
Charities and campaigners have been warning for years that fuel poverty is a social justice crisis, a public health emergency and a national security priority, but the Government took little action.
We need to see urgent help for households in fuel poverty now combined with a long-term plan to improve energy efficiency of our homes and investment in a sustainable, renewable-led, energy mix.
The Government has talked about this for long enough, but fails to match words with action – the Chancellor’s attempt to provide support for people through a “loans dressed up as grants” scheme is a prime example of this.
Ruth London from Fuel Poverty Action added:
Bad housing, profiteering on energy, and government foot dragging on the urgent switch to renewable energy have combined to create a disaster for millions of people.
The icing on the cake is that the pricing system discriminates – through high standing charges and through prepayment meters, poorer households in areas like these pay more per unit than households in better off regions. Just how much injustice and deprivation do they think people will put up with?
Jo Gilbert from Butterfly Energy said:
It’s no longer a question of heating or eating, sadly a large proportion of people can no longer afford to do either. The government needs to stop knee jerk responses and to take long term sustainable action, Rebates on council tax and £200 loans will not remedy this crisis.
Jess Ralston an analyst at the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, commented:
Energy efficiency reduces gas demand, shrinking our bills and weaning us further off gas from places like Russia. For the families in this report – many living in places that voted in the Conservatives in levelling up areas at the last election – better insulation is a lifeline against rocketing bills. For our energy system, it’s a shield against volatile fossil fuel supply and prices. If there was ever a time for energy efficiency, it’s now; insulation is the clear winner for lowering bills and improving energy security in the short term.
Ramping up existing schemes that deliver efficiency, like the Energy Company Obligation, is one way to level up homes while levelling down bills. Other policies to get our housing on track for net zero like the boiler upgrade scheme, that gives grants to swap out gas boilers for cleaner alternatives that could be hundreds of pounds cheaper to run this year, could help to isolate British families from the impacts of surging fossil fuels. It really is a no brainer.
For more on the methodology used in this news story, read more here.