Thousands still without gas in Wigan

Three per cent of households do not have access to gas
Three per cent of households do not have access to gas

More homes in Wigan are getting hooked up to the gas mains, offering them potentially lower fuel bills this winter.

Data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reveals three per cent of households in Wigan do not have access to gas - a total of 4,452 homes.

This is down from four per cent in 2015, and is one of the lowest rates in Great Britain.

The energy regulator Ofgem says access to gas can make a big difference to living standards for people in fuel poverty, as gas is a cheaper method of cooking or heating a home than other fuels.

A spokesman for the charity National Energy Action said: “Off-grid gas properties can have significantly higher energy costs than those with connections due to a reliance on expensive alternatives such as oil, LPG or electricity in order to heat homes.

“This high cost means households can struggle to adequately heat their properties, which can lead to poor health, wellbeing and even mortality.”

Around 12 per cent of households in Wigan are in fuel poverty, according to the latest figures.

In England, a household is defined as being in fuel poverty when it has higher than average energy costs and would be left with an income below the poverty line after these energy costs are deducted.

Households without access to gas are more likely to be in fuel poverty.

Under an Ofgem scheme, gas distribution companies are required to connect more vulnerable and fuel poor households to the grid. The companies cover the cost of the initial installation, which is then recovered from the household over time.

Each gas distribution company has a target for the number of fuel poor households it needs to connect by 2021. But more than 3.5 million households in Great Britain remain cut off from the gas network. That’s 13 per cent of homes, and this has fallen very little since 2015.

National Energy Action said it was welcome news that more homes were being connected to the grid, but called for further action.