Up to 100,000 households in Suffolk could enter fuel poverty by the end of the year as the cost of living crisis bites, Suffolk’s Bishop has warned.

With the country facing turbulent and uncertain times, the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, underlined the responsibility to care for the poor and most vulnerable, and for the environment.

Bishop Martin highlighted a huge rise in families struggling to earn enough money to pay for their heating bills - and said a quarter of the county's households could find themselves in such a situation.

Sudbury Mercury: The bishop says Suffolk has a higher percentage of off-grid households than the national averageThe bishop says Suffolk has a higher percentage of off-grid households than the national average (Image: Archant)

He warned that a large number of households will not benefit from the cap on gas prices because they are not able to access gas, and urged the Government to ensure those households without a mains gas supply are not overlooked.

Bishop Martin said: ‘‘We are hearing of pensioners having to go back to work to make ends meet, and more young working parents in Suffolk coming with embarrassment for the first time to a food bank or a top-up shop to be able to feed their family. Please do not make this situation worse.

‘‘In my beloved Suffolk, in 2020 there were 48,000 households in fuel poverty. This year, according to the Suffolk Community Foundation, on which I serve as a patron, even with the energy price cap, that will rise to at least 75,000 households, and probably closer to 100,000—more than a quarter of all Suffolk households."

The Suffolk Community Foundation is soon to launch an emergency appeal – The Cost of Living Surviving Winter Appeal.

Bishop Martin said: “In Suffolk, close to 29% of properties are off-grid for gas—double the national average for England. That is 29% that do not benefit from the cap on gas prices.

“I know that the Government have recognised the need to support those off-grid by offering an additional £100 per year in support but, given the price of fuel oil, that will barely make a dent.’’

The bishop also challenged the government on the proposals to permit “fracking” and to issue a new round of licences for oil and gas extraction.

He described them as "seriously retrogressive steps" that will harm progress in attaining environmental targets, and the UK's credibility in encouraging other nations to respond to the climate crisis.