MORE than half of homes in the Braintree district have poor energy efficiency ratings, new figures show, as campaign groups warn of soaring fuel poverty.

Prime Minister Liz Truss said energy bills will be frozen at no more than £2,500 a year as part of a package of support aimed at tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

But the End Fuel Poverty Coalition campaign group said the new measures would be an "expensive sticking plaster" if they were not accompanied by longer-term investment in energy efficiency and renewables.

Analysis of energy efficiency ratings by the Office of National Statistics shows 56 per cent of houses in the Braintree district had a ranking of 'D' or below as of March 2021 – the latest figures – so are likely to be worse impacted by the rising cost of fuel.

Energy performance certificates show how effective a home is at keeping heat in, with ratings from A - the most efficient - to G, meaning residents have to spend more on energy bills to keep their homes warm.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition estimates that 6.9 million households across the UK will suffer fuel poverty this winter, even after the new price guarantee – including around 5.3 million households in England.

The latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy estimate there were around 3.2 million English households in fuel poverty in 2020, including 8,601 in the Braintree district.

Separate figures from Friends of the Earth show 19 per cent of homes in the district do not have their lofts insulated, and 16 percent were without cavity wall insulation – equivalent to 12,600 and 10,700 homes respectively.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of fuel poverty charity National Energy Action, called the PM's announcement "good news", but warned more must done for those most in need.

"The new Government must not forget that the most vulnerable need targeted support," he said.

"Those who use more energy in their homes because of medical conditions, those who are elderly and those on very low incomes need extra help, so they don’t have to ration their usage, putting their physical and mental health at risk."

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is set to provide more details in an announcement later this month.