MORE must be done to help the region’s 44,013 households which are experiencing fuel poverty.

The message was issued this week, coupled with a warning that unless urgent action is taken, there could be an increase in unnecessary deaths when temperatures plummet.

Oil heating body OFTEC spoke out as Fuel Poverty Awareness Day spotlighted the growing number of people struggling to pay their energy bills.

An estimated 11.7 per cent of homes in the region are ‘fuel poor’, meaning they cannot afford to keep warm at a reasonable cost given their income.

Households in more rural parts of the district experience on average a £700 gap between their energy bills and what they can realistically afford, more than double that of urban areas.

Malcolm Farrow (pictured), for OFTEC, said: “It is shocking that in 2018 fuel poverty continues to be such a major problem and a source of great distress for so many.

“The cold weather has made the last few weeks particularly difficult, especially in rural areas where houses tend to be less well insulated against the cold.

“As well as offering advice, we are contacting local MPs to urge them to take steps to help vulnerable households.”

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