MORE than one in four Blackpool homeowners cannot afford to pay for heating.
They have been classified as living in fuel poverty by official government statistics.
And concerns have been raised some Fylde coast residents are having to choose between “heat and eat” this winter.
A shocking 27.9 per cent of households – 9.7 per cent more than the English average of 18.4 per cent – are struggling to pay their gas and electric bills according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The figure in Wyre is 22.5 per cent, and neighbouring Fylde, 18.4 per cent – both higher than the national average.
And energy bills have risen by between 16 and 20 per cent since the survey was taken.
Alan Fazackerley of Age Concern said: “We’re well aware the figure is possibly worse with energy companies increasing their tariffs.
“In Blackpool we have a higher rate of cold-related illnesses and even fatalities.
“People shouldn’t have to choose between heating and eating.”
The organisation helps pensioners struggling to cope with bills.
Retired Carol Turtle, 68, of Clifton Drive North in St Annes said: “It’s a real struggle to keep up with bills.
“I fell behind and had to pay £100 a month extra to pay it off over a year.
“But when that finished, my supplier said I needed to keep paying at that rate to keepup with the rises – it’s terrible.
“Pensions don’t go up to cover it.”
A family is said to be in fuel poverty when it cannot afford to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost, given its income.