STAFFORD Borough has more homeowners than the national average – but fuel poverty is also higher.
The details were revealed in Stafford Borough Council’s latest plan to tackle housing issues in the borough.
The latest Housing Strategy, which runs from this year to 2019, was described to the council’s cabinet as a “radical change” from the previous scheme, because it focuses on the link between housing and health and the prevention of issues such as homelessness.
Councillors heard that the borough has a home ownership rate of 71.6 per cent, compared to the 63 per cent national average, but there has also been a significant rise in private rentals between 2001 and 2011 - 92.2 per cent.
There are around 1,660 empty homes in the borough, which is less than the empty homes level reported in the neighbouring City of Stoke on Trent – almost 5,000 the meeting was also told.
But although Stafford Borough is considered “an affluent area with low levels of deprivation”, the report said, it does have a higher fuel poverty level than the national average.
More than 7,000 borough households – 13.2 per cent, are considered fuel poor compared to a national average of 10.9 per cent. Households who need to spend more than 10 per cent of their income to maintain satisfactory heating levels are considered fuel poor.
Councillor Mike Smith, who represents the rural Gnosall and Woodseaves ward, said: “I think the main point about fuel poverty is we have a very rural area. The rural areas don’t have a gas supply, therefore people have to pay for oil or fuel and that’s why carbon dioxide emissions are also higher.”
Councillor Frances Beatty, who also represents a rural ward, Chartley, said: “Fuel poverty ties in closely with the importance of good design. We are building so many houses in the borough over so many years and the Local Plan has done its best to influence good design.
“It’s something we need to be robust about with developers. What we don’t want to see is 10,000 boxes in this borough. We want houses to be good quality and the affordable housing market leads the way.”
Earlier this year Stafford Borough Council launched an online “thermal map” of the borough to show residents how their homes’ heat emissions compared to other homes and neighbourhoods. There are also contact details for Warmer Homes Stafford, which can offer free advice on cutting heating bills and improving energy efficiency.