FUEL POVERTY: One in four households in Lancashire struggle to heat their homes

After Elly Hollinghurst lost her job while pregnant, she feared the worst.
Fuel poverty affects more than a quarter of householdsFuel poverty affects more than a quarter of households
Fuel poverty affects more than a quarter of households

The 22-year-old fell behind with her bills, but was helped by energy debt advisers at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Elly has shared her story as part of today’s fuel poverty awareness day, to let people know about the heating problems faced by low-income households.

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She said: “I was made redundant when I was pregnant, I didn’t know I was pregnant at the time. I found out straight after, and while my daughter was still young I wanted to stay at home with her.

“I just got behind with the bills while trying to run the house and look after a two-year-old, I was in a lot of debt with my gas and electric and my water.”

Elly, who lives in Longridge and whose partner is living in Australia for work, contacted Preston and District Citizens Advice Bureau who helped her to get grants towards the arrears.

She said: “We are back on track now, but it’s awful to think what would have happened.

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“I didn’t speak to anyone at first, I would read the letters and think I can’t pay it and it would build up and up.

“If I hadn’t had them reduced I don’t know what would have happened, I was worried someone was going to come round and take all my things away.”

The organisation is now supporting fuel poverty awareness day, run by National Energy Action.

About 4.4m households in the UK are estimated to be living in fuel poverty, unable to heat their homes to the level needed to stay warm and comfortable in their homes.

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Judi Pearson, Citizens Advice Bureau manager, said: “Fuel poverty is a serious problem, affecting around 25 per cent of households in our area alone.”

Maria Wardrobe of NEA said: “Our charity knows all too well the horrifying reality of the current ‘heat or eat’ debate and we welcome the support of Preston Citizens Advice Bureau to help tackle this problem in Lancashire.”