Concern over fuel poverty rise in Lincolnshire
Fuel poverty in Lincolnshire has risen by nearly a third in the past year, a study has claimed.
More than a quarter of the county's homes are classed as spending more than 10% of their income on energy.
The county council survey also estimated £100m of fuel benefits had gone unclaimed.
Officials said action to boost benefit uptake had to be taken to stop fuel poverty rates doubling in the near future.
The study found poorly insulated housing, often in the rented sector, made controlling heating costs far harder.Winter deaths
County councillor Colin Davie, chairman of the group which carried out the study, said the issue was of particular concern in Lincolnshire.
"In the East Lindsay area nearly 60% of the households are living on less than £15,000 a year," he said.
"So they are struggling and people are suffering from ill health and some of them end up in hospital.
"The report also concludes that some of the excess winter deaths we have come down to fuel poverty."
He added the county council would aim to work better with the Department for Work and Pensions, the district councils and voluntary sector to increase the uptake of fuel benefits.Savings plan
Linda Burden, from the Lincolnshire Credit Union, said they were dealing with people who had to take out loans to pay for heating oil.
"Our rural members particularly find they have to purchase a minimum of 500 litres which is a considerable outlay of cash and some people just cannot afford it," she said.
"We are working in partnership with Community Lincs, which have started a bulk oil purchasing scheme, and are offering a savings scheme designed for oil purchase."
The Department of Energy and Climate Change's Annual Report on Fuel Poverty Statistics estimated there were four million households in fuel poverty in England, which is 18.4% of all households.
The government said it was already tackling the problem through a range of other measures, including the Warm Homes Discount, which offers help with bills to low-income households.