ALMOST a fifth of all Barnsley households are facing the devastating choice of whether to eat or heat their homes.

Energy prices rocketed from the end of 2021 due to reduced supply and geopolitical issues - such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine - putting more pressure on hard-up households.

Latest estimates from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities suggest 19,642 households in Barnsley were living in fuel poverty in 2022 - 17.7 per cent of the 111,171 households in the area.

This puts Barnsley above the England average of 13.1 per cent.

Nationally, 3.2 millions households were estimated to be in fuel poverty in 2022, a similar figure to the year before.

The estimates suggest there were 32 neighbourhoods across the country where half of households were suffering fuel poverty.

In addition, there were 574 neighbourhoods where at least a third of households were living in fuel poverty, with one of them in Barnsley.

Households are judged to be in fuel poverty if they are below the poverty line and living in a house with an energy efficiency rating of D or worse.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of the National Energy Action fuel poverty charity, said: “This data shows how fuel poverty hits different parts of England harder - areas with the lowest incomes and draughtiest homes.

“Bills remain far higher than pre-crisis levels.

“Households remain dangerously exposed to volatile wholesale energy prices because of how draughty our homes are and how weak household finances have become.

“Energy debt has reached record levels.”

The charity is calling for a social tariff for those on the lowest incomes, alongside help for those in debt and greater investment in improving the energy efficiency of homes.

The West Midlands was the worst-hit region, with 19.6 per cent of households in fuel poverty.

It had seven of the top ten local authority areas, with Stoke topping the league table at 24.7 per cent.

It was followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, with 17 per cent of households in fuel poverty.

A spokesperson for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “These figures show our energy bill support schemes and progress in making homes more energy efficient have protected hundreds of thousands of households from fuel poverty.

“Almost half of all homes in England now at an EPC rating of C or above, up from 14 per cent in 2010.

“We do recognise the cost-of-living challenges families are facing, which is why we’re spending £108bn supporting households with their bills, including targeted support for those who need it through the £150 warm home discount.”