Almost half the homes in Shropshire are not connected to the gas network, it can be revealed.

Of the 106,701 homes in the county, 65,577 do not have a gas supply – and more than 17,000 homes are living in fuel poverty, the figures show.

The county has been described as an “extreme” example of fuel poverty.

Shropshire Council’s People Scrutiny Committee will be presented with the statistics at a meeting on Wednesday.

The figure of homes living without gas is 46 per cent – compared with a national figure of 17 per cent.

Paul Kelly, the council’s housing operations manager, will present his findings to the committee.

With 17,607 homes (13.1 per cent) in fuel poverty, the council will discuss the National Grid’s Warm Homes Fund, which will see hundreds of properties in the county have first-time central heating installed.

Mr Kelly said: “Shropshire has a low wage economy with high levels on in-work poverty.

“The average wage of jobs advertised across the county is £24,000.

“Shropshire also has a higher than average percentage of older people.

“According to Age UK’ cold homes cost the NHS between £850m – £1.36b each year.

“Overall poor housing represents a similar risk to the NHS as physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol.

“The Marmot Review on health inequalities noted that countries which have more energy efficient housing have fewer excess winter deaths.  

“There is a relationship between excess winter deaths, low thermal efficiency of housing and low indoor temperature.  

“Excess winter deaths are almost three times higher in the coldest quarter of houses in England than in the warmest quarter.”

He added: “The Warm Homes Fund a £150 million fund administered by National Grid and the Community Interest Company, Affordable Warmth Solutions, to address some of these issues of fuel poverty.

“It incentivises the installation of affordable heating solutions in fuel poor households who do not use mains gas as their primary heating fuel. The fund will be used to supplement local strategic plans and other funding.”

He said the fund is being administered over a number of rounds. Awards made to date amount to in excess of £60m and will deliver over 16,000 improvements to fuel poor households.

In round 2a, £1.8 million was awarded to be split between Shropshire and Herefordshire Council’s to provide first time central heating in 300 homes.

In round three, £8.5 million was split between the two councils to provide first time central heating to 910 homes.

Mr Kelly said: “The situation in Shropshire is an extreme example of that faced nationally.

“If schemes can be made to work here they can work anywhere in the country.

“Our attempts to get the Warm Homes Fund to cover the cost of solid wall insulation is a recognition of the problems with the Energy Company Obligation scheme and an attempt to rectify its shortcomings.

“The only way to address both aims of reducing fuel poverty and decarbonising domestic heating is to adopt a whole house approach.”