MALVERN has been identified as one of the worst areas in England for fuel poverty, with some householders paying more than £3,000 a year to heat their homes.
It comes as a new revamped programme to tackle the problem is about to be unveiled, which was discussed at the district council’s overview and scrutiny meeting last Tuesday (October 15).
David Rolls, the council’s performance and policy manager, revealed an average of nearly 15 per cent of homes in Malvern were classed as ‘fuel poor’ – householders who spend more than ten per cent of their net income on heating their properties.
The figure is above the average in the West Midlands which itself is the worst hit region in the country.
Mr Rolls said the biggest issues were poorly insulated homes as well as the price of fuels.
In Malvern, around a third of properties have no access to mains gas forcing residents to pay for expensive alternatives such as oil, while around a third of homes have solid walls with no cavity insulation.
Typically it is older properties in rural areas or those built before the 1930s which are the least energy efficient.
It was revealed at the meeting that four wards in the district recorded average annual fuel bills in excess of £3,000 – more than double the national average.
Mr Rolls said in the last 12 months the council had provided free cavity wall insulation to around 500 homes in district and backed schemes such as the Big Community Switch to tackle high fuel prices by buying in bulk.
But the biggest change would come in the coming months when the revamped Warmer Worcestershire programme was unveiled.
Mr Rolls said the scheme had access to significantly more funding and was backed by all district councils in the county including Malvern Hills.
Residents have their homes assessed to identify how they can be made more energy efficient.
They are then presented with options for different work to be carried out as well as the schemes which may be able to help meet the costs.
Mr Rolls said it took a lot of the confusion and hassle away from residents.
“Unfortunately we can’t do much about fuel prices and people’s income. What we can do is help tackle the inefficiency of their homes and that’s where all our efforts have been going.
“This programme is the biggest single chance to reduce fuel poverty in the district.
“It needs support from communities, councillors and active promotion of the opportunity to at least find out what can be achieved.”