TENS OF thousands of households in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were in fuel poverty before the national energy crisis, new figures show.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has warned many more will struggle to afford rocketing bills this year after the energy price cap rose in April and the war in Ukraine led to an increase in wholesale oil prices.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy figures show 21,092 households in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were in fuel poverty in 2020, the most recent official figures.

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This was up from 18,889 the year prior, meaning 11.4 per cent of people lived in a property with an energy efficiency rating of band D or below and, after heating their home, had a residual income below the official poverty line.

The current explosion in fuel prices has seen the energy price cap increase by 54 per cent in April, meaning many households can expect to pay around £700 more per year on their bills.

Simon Francis, from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said the 2020 figures show "just how significant the Government's failure to tackle fuel poverty has been."

He said: "We need urgent help for households in fuel poverty now combined with a long-term plan to improve energy efficiency of our homes and a sustainable, renewable-led, energy mix."

Peter Smith, director of policy and public advocacy at National Energy Action, said the "poorest households are all too often also disproportionately impacted by poor housing" and urged the Government to fulfil its £9.2 billion commitment to improving the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals.

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He added that: "Improving energy efficiency should be at the forefront of the UK’s response to the energy crisis.”

A Government spokesperson said it is continuing to make "significant progress on tackling fuel poverty."

They added: "We are investing over £6.6 billion this parliament and working directly with local authorities to further boost energy efficiency in homes across the UK, which remains the best long-term method to keep household energy costs down".