Manchester’s energy crisis hotspots: the areas expected to struggle most as bills soar to £3,000

Friends of the Earth, which commissioned a report on where bills are rising and incomes are below average, says the Government needs to take immediate action.
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Hundreds of neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester have been identified as ‘energy crisis hotspots’ that will struggle to cope with spiralling gas and electricity bills.

A new report written for Friends of the Earth has identified places across the city-region where energy use is high but incomes are below the national average,

In some parts of Greater Manchester this affects over or just below one in three neighbourhoods.

The figures also show the scale of the energy crisis to come in the autumn, with the average bills in areas set to suffer the greatest financial hardship reaching around the £3,000 a year mark.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to act urgently to bring the costs of gas and electricity down for households, while Manchester City Council has also said ministers need to provide serious funding if ideas to alleviate the problem are to be widely rolled out.

The Government has said it is investing billions into helping people with their energy bills and making homes more efficient.

The call comes as household bills are set to soar this autumn.The call comes as household bills are set to soar this autumn.
The call comes as household bills are set to soar this autumn.

What does the data show for Greater Manchester?

The data on the city-region’s energy crisis hotspots comes from a new report which was commissioned by Friends of the Earth and created by think tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

It found that of the 10 Greater Manchester authorities Manchester itself is the worst affected by spiralling energy costs, with 89 neighbourhood within the borough classed as “energy crisis hotspots”.

This means that 31.6% of Manchester’s neighbourhoods could face significant financial hardship. This makes Manchester the 14th worst-affected local authority in England.

While it is the highest number of neighbourhoods facing financial hardship over energy, Manchester does not have the highest percentage of areas facing high energy use and less money to pay for it.

In Rochdale 35.1% of neighbourhoods are energy crisis hotspots, while in Bolton it is 32.8%.

The research also shows just how much utilities prices are spiking at the moment.

By October 2022 the average annual energy bill in these energy crisis hotspots will be over £3,000 in every one of the city-region’s 10 boroughs with the exception of Wigan.

The highest annual bills in these hotspots will be faced in Salford, at £3,198.

In many cases this is a jump of around £1,000 on the cost of energy at the moment.

Why do these energy crisis hotspots exist?

Friends of the Earth has suggested that in many of these neighbourhoods one reason energy bills are so high is because homes are poorly insulated and therefore require more to be spent to keep them warm in winter.

The research shows that in Manchester alone there are 16,800 homes in the energy crisis hotspots which do not have cavity wall insulation, and a further 11,050 that do not have loft insulation.

Bolton also has more than 10,000 homes in energy crisis hotspots which still require cavity wall insulation.

Improving insulation would be good for climate change as well as people's bank balances and physical health (Picture: Adobe Stock)Improving insulation would be good for climate change as well as people's bank balances and physical health (Picture: Adobe Stock)
Improving insulation would be good for climate change as well as people's bank balances and physical health (Picture: Adobe Stock)

Friends of the Earth and the NEF have also suggested that these at-risk areas are more likely to have children living in them and are twice as likely to be home to people of colour.

Energy prices are also expected to keep going up. The average bill could have reached more than £4,000 by next January, while experts at Cornwall Insights have also suggested prices are likely to remain high throughout 2023 and possibly beyond that.

At the same time rent has gone up by around 11% this year and the cost of food and fuel has also spiked.

What has been said about this research?

Friends of the Earth has suggested that without urgent Government intervention the UK faces widespread fuel poverty from October this year.

The organisation is calling on the candidates vying to be the next prime minister to commit to a rapid programme of free, council-led street-by-street loft and cavity wall insulation and basic energy efficiency measures.

It says those struggling most also need money putting in their pockets urgently to prevent them going cold this winter.

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research, said: “There’s no downplaying how catastrophic this and following winters will be for millions of people if energy bills rise as high as they’re predicted to, unless the government meaningfully intervenes.

“Instead of woeful and poorly-targeted cash handouts, or the promise of tax cuts that won’t help those who need it the most, the government must beef up its package of emergency financial support by channelling money to those least able to pay their energy bills.

“And while vital, this is only a short-term solution. The highest priority of all is fixing the UK’s leaky, inefficient housing stock, otherwise cash handouts will be required year on year.

“By rolling out a free programme of street-by-street energy efficiency measures, prioritising the most in-need neighbourhoods, we can help to bring bills down quickly, make homes warmer and slash Earth-warming emissions at the same time.”

The report suggests households could make savings of between £490 and £720 each year if homes were quickly made more energy efficient, starting with the neighbourhoods highlighted in the report as facing particularly severe challenges.

Manchester City Council says it is doing what it can but requires a major injection of Government cash to really address the situation.

Tracey Rawlins, executive member for environment, said: “We are clear that retrofitting homes to improve their energy efficiency is hugely important - both to reduce people’s energy bills and cut carbon emissions which contribute to the climate emergency. We have also called for extra funding from Government to enable this to happen.

“Although we are working hard with partners including registered social housing providers to support the retrofit of as much of our social housing as possible, it needs serious funding and policy commitment from Government to enable this approach to be rolled out more widely.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “We know the pressures people are facing with rising costs, which is why we are taking direct action to help households with £37 billion worth of support.

“In addition to providing eight million of the most vulnerable households with £1,200 extra support this winter, we are also investing £6.6 billion in this parliament to improve energy efficiency as part of the government’s ‘Help to Heat’ programme which is helping make households across the country cheaper to heat.”