Nearly 30,000 across county 'in fuel poverty'
Nearly 30,000 people across Shropshire are classed as living in fuel poverty, latest figures reveal.
The figures were attacked by the Liberal Democrats, who claimed that vulnerable elderly people were being put at risk of dying.
The figures, based on official government data from 2015, reveal that 7,903 people in Telford & Wrekin, and 21,139 in the rest of the county were classified as struggling to meet their energy costs.
Fuel poverty is defined as people who have above-average fuel costs that pushes them below the official poverty line, of 60 per cent of average income.
The figures compared with 4,859 living in fuel poverty in South Staffordshire, 15,158 in Wolverhampton, 4,347 people in Cannock Chase, and 15,648 in Dudley.
In Wyre Forest, 5,502 people are said to be living in fuel poverty.
Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Machnik Foster said:
“Behind these statistics lie many stories of real human suffering as people face the misery of being unable to afford to keep adequately warm.
"Cold homes in the Black Country and Shropshire pose a serious risk to people’s health, increasing costs to health and care services to treat worsened cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, and contribute to the high numbers of older people we see dying over the winter months.”
The party claimed more than 3,000 people were “needlessly” dying each year in the UK because they could not afford to properly heat their homes.
Mr Machnik Foster said the UK had the second-worst rate of excess winter deaths in Europe, according to a study by National Energy Action and climate-change charity E3G.
Mr Machnik Foster said there was a strong relationship between fuel poverty and the energy efficiency of the homes people lived in .
He said 19.7 per cent of all households living in properties with the lowest energy ratings E, F and G were fuel poor, making up 36.9 per cent of all fuel-poor households.
This compared to just three per cent of households in properties with the highest energy ratings of A, B or C, which made up just 7.8 per cent of all fuel-poor households.
He added that more than a fifth of houses in the private rented sector were fuel poor, accounting for 37.6% of all fuel-poor households.
Nearly eight out of 10 households in fuel poverty were classed as vulnerable, containing either children, the elderly, or someone with a long-term illness or disability.