‘One in six homes in these parts of Greater Manchester can’t pay their bills’

A campaign has been launched to gain more government support for those struggling with energy and fuel costs.

An estimated 32,500 families in Bolton and Bury are in serious financial difficulties as energy and fuel costs soar and wages stagnate, a Citizen’s Advice chief has said.

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that nationally, wages, adjusted for inflation for the average worker have dropped by 3.7%, in the past year.

At the same time, inflation is expected to hit 12 % and average energy bills are set to rise to more than £300 per month for an average household this autumn. Research conducted by Bristol University and Abrdn Financial Fairness Trust has found that rising prices have pushed one in six households, 32,500 in Bury and Bolton into ‘serious financial difficulties’.

Kevin Peel, a councillor in Bury who is also a trustee of Citizens Advice for Bolton and Bury is calling on residents of Bolton and Bury to sign an open letter to the five MPs across the two towns seeking extra help for those most in need across the two boroughs this winter. The campaign calls on the government to double the Household Support Fund from £500 million to £1 billion this winter.

The HSF is distributed by local councils to those who need help most to cover essentials like energy and food. The open letter seeks the support of local MPs for the campaign and asks them to write to ministers to make the case.

Coun Peel, said: “I know all too well from my own childhood the devastating impact of poverty on a family. Every family in Bolton and Bury is feeling the pinch from the cost-of-living crisis and these figures reveal that tens of thousands of households are seriously struggling to make ends meet just like my family did back then.

“The number of people seeking help from Citizens Advice, where I am proud to serve as a trustee, because they cannot afford both food and energy has more than tripled in a year. The situation is worse than any point during the pandemic.

“Yet the government has no plan to increase support for those most in need. I’m urging the government to double the HSF and I ask local residents to join me in putting pressure on our MPs to support the call so that we can speak with one voice in fighting for the support that people in Bolton and Bury need.”

The letter can be found here.