Enfield residents ‘hardest hit’ in London by soaring energy bills

Friends of the Earth research puts Enfield among five worst-hit local areas in England and Wales, reports James Cracknell

A gas hob
credit Peter Fly via Unsplash

New research indicates Enfield is among the hardest-hit areas in the country for rising energy bills.

A combination of poorly-insulated homes and soaring utility bills – set against existing local deprivation – means the borough contains more “energy crisis hotspots” than anywhere else in London, according to environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE).

The borough is also ranked by FOE as the joint fifth-worst local authority area in England and Wales behind only Birmingham, Bradford, Cornwall and Sandwell.

FOE defines energy crisis hotspots as neighbourhoods where energy use is high and typical household income is below the national average. In many cases, energy use is high in these neighbourhoods because homes are poorly insulated, meaning they require more energy to remain warm.

Within Enfield, the areas highlighted by FOE as energy crisis hotspots include most of Edmonton, Ponders End, Brimsdown, Enfield Highway, Freezywater, Southbury, Chase Side, Bowes, Palmers Green, Southgate and Cockfosters.

The analysis found that in these areas of Enfield, 11,770 homes are in need of cavity wall insulation and 18,500 need loft insulation – and that the average energy bill is set to rise 46% to £3,196 in October.

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The rise in energy bills due to arrive in October will be on top of the existing 50% rise that has already come into effect this year.

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Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, 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.”

A new report  by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) on behalf of Friends of the Earth shows how an emergency energy efficiency scheme for England and Wales could be delivered by local authorities over the coming months, starting with the neighbourhoods most in need, to protect people from soaring bills before this winter and beyond.

It reveals that households could make savings of between £490 and £720 each year on their bills through the rapid roll-out of a council-led, street-by-street programme of insulation and other energy saving measures. These estimates were made before the most recent energy price cap forecasts were given, making the potential savings even higher.

FOE is calling on the two candidates vying to be the next prime minister – who is set to be announced next week – to commit to a rapid programme of free, council-led street-by-street loft and cavity wall insulation and basic energy efficiency measures.

This week, the Dispatch reported that foodbank managers in Enfield were seeing a ‘surge’ in demand from people who were struggling to pay for food amid the rapidly worsening cost-of-living crisis.

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