MORE than a third of Barnsley’s villages will be at greatest risk of financial hardship when the energy price cap ‘sky rockets’ in October, the Chronicle can reveal.

Analysis by climate charity, Friends of the Earth, shows 51 out of 147 neighbourhoods and villages in Barnsley are at risk of encountering problems in the autumn.

The energy price cap is designed to protect consumers from short-term price changes.

It is adjusted by Ofgem every three months and is based on the price energy suppliers pay producers for electricity and gas. October’s price cap is due to be announced at the end of this month.

It’s predicted the average annual bill will reach £3,582 in October, with it increasing even further in January when it reached around £4,200.

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The average bill was £1,400 in October 2021.

The soaring cost-of-living has left many Barnsley residents facing the tough decision of whether to ‘heat or eat’ - and new increases are set to leave locals with even less money in their pockets.

In Barnsley, 35 per cent of areas are among the worst-impacted across England and Wales.

The current average energy bill in the town is £2,081 per year - but analysis shows this is set to rise by more than 44 per cent to £3,014.

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, said the government needs to do more to effectively insulate properties to reduce the amount of energy required to heat homes this winter.

Figures show that across the borough, more than 5,300 homes will need cavity wall insulation whilst almost 6,800 need loft insulation.

He said: “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 and 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.”

The government has provided £37bn worth of support to help households in the cost-of-living crisis.

But Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said the ‘sky rocketing’ of prices will swallow up all the help already available.

She added: “Every single day at Citizens Advice we’re already helping people in the most heartbreaking circumstances, trying to scrape together enough to feed their kids and keep the lights on. This will get far, far worse unless the government acts.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that skyrocketing prices will swallow up all of the help that has been announced so far.

“Every day that goes by without a plan is another day without reassurance for people who desperately need it. We urgently need further support, otherwise we risk a winter of despair for millions.”