Derbyshire charity tackles cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills for rural people

Published on: Friday, 10th February 2023
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A Derbyshire charity is taking a number of important steps to support rural people through the current cost-of-living crisis.  

Rural Action Derbyshire is helping the most vulnerable in countryside communities through several avenues which tackle the cost of energy, food and everyday living.

Rising energy bills are affecting households across Derbyshire, but they are proving even more challenging for the 67,000 households living off the mains gas in the county - with as many as 40% of properties in the Derbyshire Dales relying on oil, coal or liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to warm their homes.

Within a year, the cost of heating oil has skyrocketed, pushing many rural households closer to the breadline, making the support particularly important.

Rural Action Derbyshire has launched a new pilot scheme to provide financial support for fuel poor households off the mains gas network. The British Gas Energy Fund is providing funding so that RAD can offer a one-off sum of £150 per household to go towards energy costs, paid directly to the supplier for heating oil, LPG or solid fuel. 

Provided beneficiaries are in not in debt with their energy suppliers, this can help to tackle rising alternative energy costs, pushing prices closer to 2021 levels, and with the support of Homefire and Feeding Britain, RAD is able to provide supplies of smokeless coal to those relying on solid fuel to heat their homes.

Four tonnes of coal will be available at sites across Derbyshire for vulnerable households, meaning beneficiaries referred can receive much-needed supplies over winter.

Rose Bray, Project Manager at Feeding Britain, said: “We’re delighted that Homefire gave the green light to offer this donation. It’s fantastic. We chose to split this donation across five Feeding Britain partners where we believe the demand will be greatest. This includes Derbyshire, where a large quantity of coal will be made available.” 

RAD’s Oil Bank will continue to provide deliveries of 500 litres of heating oil. Applications are judged on a case-by-case basis, only one delivery per household and strict eligibility criteria apply.

Finally, RAD is also offering help with other costs through its Rural Hardship Fund, which has been relaunched with funding from DCC Public Health. This benefits those who are in financial hardship and need help with critical expenses. If a car, fridge, cooker or washing machine breaks down, for instance, many people will struggle to find the money to get it repaired or replaced. Some may need essential furniture or carpets. This Fund provides vital support with these costs.

In the past, over 80 applications have been processed, offering just under £18,000 to vulnerable residents in total with the current offer of a maximum of £300 per household to continue support for those in need.

Applications for any of these support funds are only by referral from services such as Citizens Advice, Social Care, Public Health, Food Banks, Derbyshire Rural Chaplaincy and AgeUK

Emma Simpson, Fuel Poverty lead at Rural Action Derbyshire, added: “It is certainly more challenging for people who live in rural properties off the mains gas grid. Alternative energy prices are not regulated and the payment options mean it is much harder to spread the cost. I am so grateful to the British Gas Energy Trust, Homefire and Feeding Britain.

“Through these vital avenues of support, we can take steps towards bringing energy prices back down to a more manageable level, helping vulnerable people to fight the cold this winter.” 

For more information on how to apply for any of these avenues of support, including our terms and conditions, please visit the Rural Action Derbyshire website.

If you’d like to support the work of Rural Action Derbyshire, please visit

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