A substantial number of elderly individuals residing in Yorkshire have been left without financial assistance to manage rising energy costs, as revealed by Age UK’s recent warning.
Extent of the Issue:
Age UK disclosed that an alarming figure of nearly three-quarters of a million households failed to receive aid through the Energy Bills Support Scheme, resulting in a collective loss of nearly £3 million in support.
Within this concerning scenario, over 50,000 households in Yorkshire found themselves in the unfortunate position of receiving only 16.6% of the promised £400 payment, ranking Yorkshire’s uptake as the third lowest across the nation, trailing behind London and the North East.
Criticism of the Scheme:
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) expressed opposition to the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which is designed for households without a direct relationship with a residential energy supplier, such as those staying in park homes or on boats. A June report by MPs pointed out the delayed eligibility for many households, putting them at a disadvantage.
New Revelations from Age UK:
Age UK, through a Freedom of Information request, has obtained data that sheds light on the scheme’s shortcomings. Of the approximately 883,000 eligible households in the UK with non-standard energy supply arrangements, merely 17% (equivalent to around 150,000 households) actually received the designated £400 energy support for the year.
Disparities in Access:
Among the demographics that managed to access the funding, Age UK’s analysis indicated that care home residents had the lowest success rate, with only around 7% receiving the £400 energy assistance. In contrast, park home and houseboat residents fared better, with 35% benefiting from the support, along with over half of heat network users (58%).
While the Government maintained that it invested billions to shield families from winter price hikes and employed diverse communication strategies to reach eligible households, Age UK’s findings strongly suggested that the scheme’s execution for these users had failed. The charity attributed this failure to a cumbersome application process that lacked sufficient publicity.
The revelation of widespread disbursement issues within the Energy Bills Support Scheme highlights the urgent need for improvements. As thousands of elderly citizens in Yorkshire and across the UK face the impact of rising energy costs, rectifying the flaws in the application process becomes imperative.