West Midlands has highest rates of fuel poverty in England

West Midlands has highest rates of fuel poverty in England

West Midlands has highest rates of fuel poverty in England – but free expert advice is here!

Help is at hand for those living in fuel poverty across the West Midlands, with energy experts Warmer Homes West Midlands locating themselves in the heart of the region.

The charity’s new base in Tyseley, Birmingham means that it can more easily operate where help is needed the most.

The government’s latest fuel poverty data which has just published, shows that the West Midlands has the highest rate of fuel poverty in England – with Birmingham having the highest proportion of fuel poor households.*

Warmer Homes West Midlands delivers expert advice to those struggling to heat their homes.

Paul Wiltshire, who heads up the organisation said: “The last 12 months have been unprecedented when it comes to energy bill rises and so many people are struggling to heat their homes; pay their bills and keep warm and well.”

“We’re here to support people right across the West Midlands. Our advice is tailored for lower income residents and those in fuel poverty; and here in the West Midlands we have the highest rates in England.”

“Our advice and support is delivered by friendly, qualified energy experts who run a freephone advice service. We also have a team of outreach workers who work closely with our local communities running drop-in sessions, roadshow advice events, and training of frontline workers for partner organisations.”

“And our experts also offer home-visits to make sure that we can tailor specific advice for those who need it most.”

Paul added: “We’re on a mission to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in cold and damp homes with free impartial personalised energy advice right across the region. Our person-centred approach means we can make a big difference even when things look bleak.”

The charity can help with:

  • Energy efficiency advice to to reduce bills
  • Grants and funding for energy efficiency measures
  • Grants for broken heating systems
  • Help with fuel bills and energy debt
  • Money mentoring
  • Billing issues with your supplier


Call us for free on 0800 988 2881

Don’t worry alone

Notes to editors

*The government data can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/sub-regional-fuel-poverty-2023-2021-data/sub-regional-fuel-poverty-in-england-2023-2021-data


Warmer Homes West Midlands is a project run by of Act on Energy – a leading energy advice charity for 25 years based in Warwickshire.

Warmer Homes West Midlands has already supported more than 10,000 vulnerable households across the region in its first two years of operation. A further two years of funding was announced last October; funding awarded  by Energy Savings Trust.

For further information please contact judy@actonenergy.org.uk

Changes announced to energy support packages

Changes announced to energy support packages

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced today that the Energy Price Guarantee (which had been scheduled to last for two years) will now be limited to 6 months.


He has announced a review to look at what support will be applied after April 2023 – signalling a ‘new approach’ was required, targeting those most in need.

Until then, the price guarantee (the ‘cap’) remains in place, which means that for a typical household, an annual bill will be around £2,500. For those who use more energy, the bill will be higher because it is the unit cost of energy that is capped – not the overall bill.

Similarly for those using less energy, the bill will be less.


The £400 grant being paid in 6 monthly instalments from October 2022 remains in place.

If you’re worried about your energy bills this winter – please don’t worry alone. Call us for free on 0800 988 2881 to find out more about how we can help you.


We can help with:

  • Energy efficiency to to reduce bills
  • Grants and funding for energy efficiency measures
  • Grants for broken heating systems
  • Help with fuel bills and energy debt
  • Billing issues with your supplier



Call us for free on 0800 988 2881

Don’t worry alone

Government Support for Household Energy Bills

Government Support for Household Energy Bills

Government Support for Household Energy Bills


The UK Government recently announced measures to support households with the cost of their energy bills this winter, to ease the pressure from the global rise in energy prices.


From 1st October, the Energy Price Guarantee will mean a typical UK household will pay an average of £2,500 a year on their energy bills for the next two years. This is automatic and applies to all households.

This will save the average household at least £1,000 a year based on current energy prices from October.


In addition to this, households will benefit from a £400 discount on their energy bills via the Energy Bills Support Scheme.



About the Energy Bills Support Scheme


The Energy Bills Support Scheme is a Government scheme which provides a £400 non-repayable discount to eligible households in Great Britain to help with their energy bills over winter 2022 to 2023. You won’t have to pay it back.


You’ll get the £400 in six instalments starting from October 2022. You’ll get:

    • £66 in October and November
    • £67 in December, January, February and March

You’ll get the discount monthly, even if you pay for your energy quarterly or use a payment card. Your electricity supplier should provide more guidance on the scheme before it starts. If you have not received your first instalment by the end of October 2022, you need to contact your energy supplier.


Messaging to traditional prepayment meter customers


You will receive the Energy Bills Support Scheme discount from the first week of each month between October 2022 and March 2023.

Your supplier should have your contact details, but if you’re not sure or you don’t receive any information from them, you should check that they have your latest number and email.

You’ll get the discount automatically in one of the following ways, as:

    • Redeemable vouchers, sent by SMS text, email or post
    • An automatic credit when you top up at your usual top up point

Your electricity supplier will let you know in advance how you will get your discount.

If you get vouchers you’ll need to redeem them at a top-up point. Your supplier will tell you where to redeem them, for example at a Post Office branch or a PayPoint shop.

Payzone outlets are unable to accept the vouchers.


To find out more, visit the Energy Bills Support Scheme on gov.uk.


Are energy costs stressing you out?

Are energy costs stressing you out?

You might be wondering why you are paying more for your energy…

Simple answer: The energy price cap increased. On the first of April this year the energy price cap increased by 54%.


What is a price cap? 

This is the limit on how much a supplier can charge for the gas or electricity per unit. This is to ensure that you aren’t overcharged for your energy by your supplier.


How is this worked out?

On a six-month basis, Ofgem (which is a regulatory body supervising the operation of the gas and electricity industry) work out the average costs a supplier must pay to get energy to the consumer. To ensure you get a fair price energy companies must charge the cap or below the capped price.

Why has the cap increased? 

This is due to the wholesale price of fuel, which increased for several reasons; these include the harsh winter in Europe, the recent conflict in Ukraine disrupting supply channels and producers not sufficiently increasing production to meet demand.



Here are some small simple tips that can help you lower your energy bills:

  • Turn off the heating – as we come into summer it’s naturally getting warmer so remember to switch it off in the warmer months
  • Wash your clothes at a lower temperature – this doesn’t just save on your energy it saves your clothes too!
  • Dry your clothes outside – now that it’s warmer let the sun do the work rather than the tumble dryer.

For loads more tips look through our other posts or visit our Warmer Homes West Midlands YouTube channel where we have short videos with practical tips.



We can support you in various ways:

  • You can call our freephone number 0808 196 8298 and receive information, advice and guidance from one of our qualified energy advisors.
  • Our community outreach staff can visit you in your home and carry out an energy check with you including the installation of energy efficiency measures.
  • We can also explain any grants and additional support you might be able eligible for depending on your individual circumstances and the existing energy performance of your property.


Energy Financial Support

Energy Financial Support

Households that are struggling with their energy use and costs should know that there is help and financial support available.

Across the United Kingdom, there are numerous sources of support to overcome fuel poverty or its related issues. If you would like to know more about what constitutes “fuel poverty”, a lookthrough our previous article “What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?” might prove quite helpful.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

    The Warm Home Discount Scheme (WHD) is funded by the energy suppliers. It provides direct and indirect financial support to vulnerable energy consumers.
    The WHD scheme separates eligible households into two groups – the ‘Core’ group and the ‘Broader’ group.

    Support under the Core Group is targeted at older, poorer pensioner households. A householder qualifies for the Core Group discount if on a specific day (to be confirmed) all of the following apply:

    • their supplier was part of the scheme.
    • their name (or their partner’s) was on the statement on a specified day in July.
    • they were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if they get Savings Credit as well).
    • Discount is £140.

    Households who feel they may qualify for the WHD under their supplier’s Broader Group should submit an application directly to their supplier. Each company has its own set of qualifying conditions.

    A link to the individual suppliers’ websites and their qualifying criteria can be found at: www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/eligibility.

    Financial Assistance and grants available for those who suffer from Fuel Poverty

    Trusts and Grants

      Most of the energy suppliers offer a range of grants for their most vulnerable customers (subject to meeting certain criteria).

      • British Gas (British Gas Energy Trust) – Payments for household bills/ energy arrears.
      • EDF Energy (EDF Energy Customer Support Fund) – Payments for household bills/ energy arrears or essential appliances.
      • E.ON (Energy Fund) – Will provide payments for household bills/ energy arrears, essential appliances and repairs to or replacement boilers.
      • npower (Energy Fund) – Provides financial assistance to individuals and organisations.
      • SSE Priority Assistance Fund – supports those who in or at risk of fuel poverty. Website includes information on support services.
      • ScottishPower Hardship Fund – Provides help to customers having difficulty paying their bills due to low income. Electricity and gas arrears can be cleared or reduced by a credit from the fund to the customer’s account.
      • Let’s Talk Energy Fund – Open to everybody regardless of energy supplier. It offers debt relief, boilers and white goods.
      • Charis Grants – facilitates charitable and corporate giving by designing, developing and managing a range of services in support of vulnerable members of society. Website: www.charisgrants.com/
      • Priority Services Register (PSR) – The Priority Services Register is a free service provided by fuel suppliers and network operators for vulnerable customers. Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register and will need you to contact them directly. 
      What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?

      What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?

      Although fuel poverty is defined and measured slightly differently across the UK, it is typically associated with families from the lower economic spectrum that are financially challenged by the utilities costs that are expended on warming the home.

      In England, families that find themselves with residual incomes below the poverty threshold after covering the fuel expenses, or, experience fuel costs that are above the national median level, are considered to suffer from fuel poverty, according to the Low-Income High Cost (LIHC) metric.

      In Scotland, households that experience fuel poverty are those whose utilities costs are above 10% than the households adjusted income. For households receiving social benefits and find themselves without enough financial resources to maintain an “acceptable standard of living” after covering the fuel expenses, are also considered to be experiencing fuel poverty.

      Similar criteria are present also in Wales, where the 10% rules also apply but moreover, when families spend more than 20% of their household income on fuelling their home, they are classified as being in severe fuel poverty.

      Seniors arguing over electricity bill.

      Risks and Main Contributing Factors

      There are various factors contribute to fuel poverty, some that involve the individual or household, whilst some relate to the house or property itself. Risk factors associated with individual households can involve things such as: low income, unemployment, high fuel costs, fuel payment methods, young age (16-25), senior age (65+) and individuals with medical conditions.

      Property related risk factors could be the age, size and state of repair of the property. The quality and amount of insulation in the property. The properties construction type and the efficiency of it’s heating system as well as type of tenure can also have a significant impact on fuel poverty in the household.

      Electricity Bill numbers

      Statistics & Demographics

      In 2018, England reported that 2.4 million (10.3%) of its households are classified as fuel poor, whilst Scotland and Wales identified 619,000 and 155,000 households, respectively, that experience fuel poverty. In the West Midlands alone, households classified as fuel poor are well in excess of 300,000.

      Furthermore, the current pandemic is likely to have increased these figures further across the country.

      Typical Characteristics of Fuel Poverty


      What you may hear:

      • Home is usually too cold/ draughty.
      • The householders have respiratory problems.
      • The fuel bills are too high.
      • They are getting into fuel debt.
      • The householders stay in bed to keep warm.
      • The householder/s may wish to stay in hospital because it is more comfortable.
      • They have moved over to a prepayment meter to avoid incurring debt.


      What you may feel:

      • Cold.
      • Large differences in temperatures between rooms.
      • Your hands might be cold to the touch.
      • You might smell Damp.
      • Sense of gloom and a depressed atmosphere.


      What you may see:

      • Children constantly have runny noses, rashes, ear infections, conjunctivitis.
      • Children often off school.
      • Children are emotional/ tired.
      • Mould stains on walls or curtains.
      • Peeling wallpaper or paint.
      • Ventilation points blocked.
      • Householder wearing too much clothing.


      What you may notice about the heating:

      • Portable bottled gas heaters.
      • Partial or no fixed heating system.
      • Heating controls absent / not working / switchedoff.
      • Visual evidence that heating appliances are not in use.
      Senior at risk due to fuel poverty.

      Health Implications

      Fuel poverty can have a diverse set of health implications depending on either household temperature or the cleanliness of the household.

      Cold Weather Plan for England have suggested that low indoor temperature present a range of health-related risks caused by fuel poverty such as: heart attacks/strokes, respiratory disease, influenza, worsening of existing health conditions or slower recoveries, falls/injuries, hypothermia, development of mental health illnesses, carbon monoxide poisoning, poorer nutrition.

      To avoid such risks, homes should be kept at a temperature of 18*C-24*C (64*F-75*F). Home temperatures that drop below 16*C (61*F) present diminished resistance to respiratory infections. When temperatures are below 12*C (54*F) they affect body temperatures and increase blood pressure and viscosity, whereas when homes are warmed at bellow 5*C (41*F), a significant risk of hypothermia is present.

      In terms of damp and mould in the household, they can enhance the risk of respiratory infections, runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, rhinitis, as well as reducing the resistance to bacteria and viruses.


      Although there are various factors that contribute to fuel poverty, the three main causes that would also require the most attention are the high costs of fuel, low income, but also poor energy efficiency. It is the combination of these factors that place various householders in difficult conditions and lead to physical and mental health problems.

      Potential Solutions

      In an attempt to understand and help overcome factors that can cause fuel poverty, a series of solutions and ideas have been initialised by the British Government, as well as other (non-profit) organisations, such as Warmer Homes West Midlands.

      Several of these solutions are listed below: