Warning issued over rising energy bills this winter
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Thousands of households in Breckland and North Norfolk will struggle to pay their energy bills this winter, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The warning comes after this paper launched its 'There With You This Winter' campaign, aimed at supporting people through the colder months and finding ways of keeping rising fuel costs at bay.
Figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show 8,888 households in Breckland are in fuel poverty, while 7,866 in North Norfolk are in the same situation.
A household is considered to be fuel poor if they live in a property with low energy efficiency and would be pushed below the poverty line by housing costs and the energy bills needed to have a warm, well-lit home.
Energy prices rose steeply in recent weeks, while the £20-a-week boost to universal credit came to an end.
A statement from Citizens Advice Norfolk, which offers advice from offices in Dereham and Fakenham, said: "We are warning of an increase in people struggling to pay their energy bills and turning to charities for help.
"A huge surge in wholesale gas prices and the energy price cap rise will impact household energy bills and increase the need for practical, impartial advice."
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Citizens Advice Norfolk is running a Norfolk Warm and Wise scheme, which helps people specifically with energy-related problems.
Project coordinator Caroline Mackinson said: "The huge increases in energy bills couldn’t come at a worse time for many households, with the ending of furlough and the £20-per-week cut to universal credit.
“With so many smaller energy companies going out of business, it can be very worrying for people.
"However, if your supplier goes bust, the supply of gas and/or electricity to your home won’t be disrupted, as the energy regulator, Ofgem, will move you to a new supplier.
"Our advice is to take a meter reading, download any online bills and don’t switch tariff or supplier until your account is moved to the new supplier."
For assistance, call the Citizens Advice Adviceline on 0800 144 8848 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Dereham office, at the Assembly Rooms in Ruthen Place, is open from 10am to 12pm on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
The Fakenham office remains closed for face-to-face advice.