More than 3,750 Harrogate and Knaresborough households living in fuel poverty

22 per cent of Harrogate homeowners said they will only be running their heating in part of their home in a bid to save money. Picture: Steve Race
22 per cent of Harrogate homeowners said they will only be running their heating in part of their home in a bid to save money. Picture: Steve Race

More than 3,750 households in Harrogate and Knaresborough are living in fuel poverty.

Figures released by Safegas show that 3,794 households in the constituency are struggling with their heating bills.

According to the research, carried out in November and December 2014, 78 per cent of Harrogate homeowners feel more concerned about their heating bills than ever before.

It was also revealed that 22 per cent said they will only be running their heating in part of their home in a bid to save money, and the same number said they have been trying to stay out of the home so as not to run up their heating bills.

This has been highlighted as a real problem for older people in Harrogate, which has a larger than average elderly population.

The research uncovered that one in three pensioners in the constituency are planning to ration their heating, despite the dangers.

More concerning is 25 per cent of local residents who know an elderly neighbour, friend, or family member cold inside their home this winter.

Director of Harrogate charity Supporting Older People (SOP) Kate Rogata said: “It is a serious problem, and sometimes I really do think some older people have the choice between keeping warm and having enough money to eat.

“It is a real issue - the government agenda is one of prevention, because if you can’t keep warm and you are older you are more likely to be ill.”

SOP has been given £500 for the winter months by the Two Ridings Community Foundation’s surviving winter fund, so they can help.

Kate added: “There are things out there, but the government needs to do more to put its money where its mouth is really. In Harrogate there is an issue with hidden poverty and people don’t often say because most manage well here.”

The Safegas research highlighted that too few people know anything about what help is available.

For example, one in five residents in Harrogate were not aware that the government offers cold weather payments for people on income support and pension credits.

Half of pensioners in the constituency are not aware of the grants available to them and two thirds said they are not receiving any grants, despite all pensioners being eligible for winter fuel support.

And 78 per cent of Harrogate residents believe the government should do more to help pensioners in the winter months.

Aware of the wider problem of keeping older people warm in winter, the Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP) has been distributing winter warmth packs to clients, particularly those who access the lunch clubs run by the Ripon and Rural Wellbeing Service.

The packs include a box of CupaSoups, a fleecy blanket, thermal mug, hot water bottle, room thermometer and a pair of socks or a hat.