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Heating oil, fuel poverty… and a request

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Fuel poverty is certain to prove more of a threat to low income households this winter, with higher energy use as a result of staying at home for sustained periods, reduced incomes for many, and the impact of COVID-19.

Many Norfolk households and businesses in off-gas areas are burdened with the added element of the unregulated prices of heating oil.

A few weeks ago we asked for your help in raising awareness of ThinkingFuel, our collective heating oil buying scheme. We’d like to say a big thank you to those of who have published the article we supplied or have shared posters and flyers. If you haven’t already shared the message, we should be most grateful if you would. Details of how you can help can be found below.

ThinkingFuel has long supplied low-priced heating oil to thousands of Norfolk households who know and trust that we are able to negotiate competitively and consistently low prices. ThinkingFuel is long-established and trusted. It offers choice, and our members also know that in buying oil from ThinkingFuel, they are helping CAN support community development and local projects across the county.

We have a ready-to-use article and a poster downloadable here for use in community, client and organisational newsletters and magazines. We can supply A5 leaflets for display in premises and distribution to vulnerable service users where you may see a need – contact steve.nunn@communityactionnorfolk.org.uk or call 01362 545027.

A multi-strand strategy

ThinkingFuel is part of CAN’s wider strategy of supporting households and communities in addressing the issue of fuel poverty in Norfolk. We work in raising awareness of a range of options and choices available to Norfolk’s residents, notably with:

  • Big Switch and Save energy switching campaign
  • Big Energy Saving Network, providing training for frontline staff
  • British Gas Energy Trust, helping the public understands how to save on their energy bills.

Read more here.  

Fuel poverty as a contributory factor to excess winter deaths

Excess deaths in winter (EWD) are a concerning public health issue in the UK. In Norfolk we see around 600 excess deaths each winter. The most vulnerable are of course the elderly and certain illness groups, the risk often exacerbated through poor mobility and inability to work.  It is noteworthy that other countries in Europe - especially the colder Scandinavian countries - have relatively fewer excess winter deaths in winter compared to the UK.

The UK Fuel Monitor recently pointed to a high risk of fuel debt increasing in the coming months, with more households having to cut back on their energy use and potentially faced with ‘eat or heat’ choices. The risk, then, has spread wider in demographic terms, to include those having to work at home throughput the working day, inevitably seeing their heating and lighting bills rise.

Other sources of help

Norfolk County Council’s ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign carries a wealth of helpful information, including how to claim financial help. And Norfolk Community Foundation’s 'Surviving Winter Appeal' has provided life-saving support to many vulnerable Norfolk residents.