Alice Charity team gears up for devastating winter as crisis seems set to plunge two-thirds of households into fuel poverty

A charity dedicated to supporting families in North Staffordshire is gearing up for the most devastating winter they’ve seen as households are plunged into fuel poverty.

Just over three million households were classed as in fuel poverty in 2020. But this will escalate to two-thirds of the 28 million households in the UK by January 2023, according to a new report from York University.

“Charities will struggle to cope this winter. The current crisis will take in many families who have never had to ask for help before.,” Steph Talbot, Chief Executive, of Alice Charity warned. “We’ve seen criticism of people like money saving expert Martin Lewis for stating households are facing a catastrophe, but that’s simply facing up to the truth.

“North Staffordshire has some of the country’s most deprived wards and these will be hit hardest. The York report says people who are living in the poorest and coldest regions of the UK will be the worst affected along with those who are already most likely to be struggling with the cost of living. More than 80 per cent of large families, lone parents and pensioner couples will be in fuel poverty, the authors of the report say.”

Alice Charity currently helps around 4,500 families a year and this is likely to increase significantly this coming year.

And the grim reality is that the Alice Charity team is now even worried about how it can afford to heat and light its own headquarters going forward.

“There’s a lot of talk about so-called warm banks being established this winter and we would love to invite people in to our building to keep warm but we can’t even be sure we can afford to pay our increased energy costs. Other charities will be in the same situation,” said Steph.

“We’re exploring options on how best to support people through this crisis as it is going to take new solutions to deal with unprecedented demand ”.

Steph founded Alice along with her daughter Emily Petts in 2011 and has grown in response to demand for support. “We don’t celebrate our growth as it reflects the number of families who struggle to make ends meet day in and day out in North Staffordshire,” added Steph.

“Foodbanks are now a normal feature of UK towns, we have our own People’s Pantry, and it now looks likely that the idea of warm banks will become normalised too.”

Steph said she worries that the fuel price crisis is becoming a political football, adding “I was shocked to see Graham Hutton, the Chair of Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Conservative Association, quoted in the news as saying a very small proportion of families using food banks actually need help, adding that an awful lot of people who use food banks do so because they wouldn’t pass up on something free. He also said people should put on a jumper to save on heating.

“This sort of talk really is grossly unfair on people who are genuinely worried and face a choice of heating or eating this winter. I am a Labour councillor, so people may think she would say that, wouldn’t she? But perhaps Mr Hutton would like to come along to our offices in Merrial Street, Newcastle and come on some home visits to witness what Alice staff have to deal with to support local families every day?”

Steph was elected as a councillor for Knutton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, in 2022. Graham Hutton is a Staffordshire County Councillor for Bradwell, Porthill and Wolstanton.

The Potteries is the 16th most deprived area in England out of 326 districts and around 75,000 local residents are considered to be in the 10 per cent most deprived group of people in England.
To learn more about the community work by Alice Charity, please go online to
For media enquiries contact Nigel Howle by phone on 0776 2043436 or email [email protected].