MP angry over people struggling to pay bills

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By Anika Bourley

The number of families living in fuel poverty across Bradford has doubled to more than 23,000 - one in every eight houses across the district.

Official figures show 23,872 households across Bradford - 12.6 per cent of the homes in the area - are classed as living in fuel poverty, meaning they have to spend more than ten per cent on their income on fuel bills.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change figures for 2006 are significantly higher than the 12,400 homes which were struggling in 2003.

And given the massive increase in fuel prices last year and the recession, 36,000 homes across Bradford could currently be in fuel poverty if the 2006-9 increase was the same as the previous three-year period.

Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies said: "It is appalling that so many people are in this situation and many are having to make the decision to stay warm or to buy food - it is an absolute tragedy. This problem will only get worse.

"The Government's obsession with climate change will only make things worse. By their own admission, to deliver more renewable energy the price of gas bills is going to go up by 20 per cent.

We need an energy policy which will secure supply of demand and make it affordable.

"However bad these figures are for 2006, the reality is going to be much worse now and in future."

Nationally the overall number living in fuel poverty has hit four million households.

Energy and Climate Change Minister David Kidney said: "We recognise there is still a mountain to climb on fuel poverty because of significant increases in fuel bills and that's why we're determined to redouble our efforts.

"We will build on the measures we've already brought forward, including the £20 billion on benefits and programmes, without which 800,000 more people would have found themselves in fuel poverty.

"We plan to legislate to give new powers to the regulator to take action, make social tariffs mandatory not optional, and are planning new measures on energy efficiency."