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Research into tackling food and fuel crisis in County Durham

As winter is at our doorstep, many low-income families in the North East struggle with the dilemma of whether to use their income to adequately feed themselves or heat their homes.

Researchers at Durham University Business School's Centre for Banking, Institutions and Development (CBID) have embarked on a new research collaboration with Durham Christian Partnership (DCP) to analyse the links between food and energy poverty in the region using information from DCP’s Food and Fuel Banks. Analysing a sample of 10,000 clients who used the DCP County Durham Foodbank service in a period between 2015 and 2016, around 40% of clients receiving food help were also classed to be in fuel crisis.

Early evidence from the CBID research shows that benefit delays (including sanctioning), low income and benefit changes were the major influences affecting those needing emergency fuel assistance in County Durham. Large proportions of clients needing help with food were unemployed and 35% of fuel voucher recipients were families with children and other dependants. 

"Sadly eat or heat is a reality for many in the region and we need to tackle this issue with both local community involvement and Government", said Glenn Jones, DCP Chair of Trustees.

The on-going research aims to highlight the types of structural challenges that drive low-income families in the region to seek food and fuel assistance. The findings of the research will hopefully help inform policymakers and local third-sector organisations, which provide valuable support services for people in crisis in the region, as they seek to address the underlying challenges.

For more details on the research, contact Dr Dennis Philip, the lead researcher on the project from CBID, Durham University Business School.