A new report has revealed some of the nation's poorest regions are being hit with the highest fuel bills in the UK.
The latest Quarterly Price Survey by energyhelpline.com revealed that a "postcode lottery" is in effect across the energy market.
This means certain areas are paying as much as £92 a year more for their gas and electricity than those in neighbouring counties.
Perhaps most shockingly, the regions with the highest levels of unemployment were found to also be the locations where energy bills are the most expensive.
Mark Todd, director of energyhelpline.com, said: "It's a cruel irony that the areas being landed with the highest bills are the ones where cash is most strapped and where people are struggling to find employment."
Merseyside and north Wales are charged the most for their energy, with an average annual bill totalling £1,373.
However, according to the most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, unemployment levels in these areas are now the second highest in the UK at 9.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, Wales is close behind with nine per cent of adults currently out of work.
Mr Todd commented: "This postcode lottery places extra strain on squeezed budgets and could throw more people into fuel poverty."
The ONS figures show unemployment in the north-west rose by 8,000 in the last quarter, which bucked the national trend.
Meanwhile, the Church Urban Fund's recent study revealed Merseyside has five of the most ten deprived areas in England.
"Our latest quarterly price survey shows that there has been no let-up for those hit with the highest prices," Mr Todd added.
Following behind Merseyside and north Wales, the second highest bills can be found in the west Midlands, where people pay an average of £1,333 per year.
The cheapest areas for energy bills include north Scotland (£1,281), the east Midlands (£1,291), London (£1,293), southern England (£1,294) and the south-east (£1,316).
Commenting on the reason for this pricing "postcode lottery", Mr Todd said the reason for the considerable fluctuations in price is the fact "regional suppliers charge what they think they can get away with".
In order to avoid becoming a victim of high fuel prices, the expert recommends carrying out an energy comparison to see if there are cheaper suppliers.
It was suggested "profit hot spots" arise due to customers remaining loyal to regional suppliers.
However, by switching energy companies, homeowners "can stand up for themselves and show that they will not tolerate high prices".
With price increases expected later in the year, Mr Todd claimed the gap between regional costs is likely to continue to widen.
"The good news is that the people living in the regions paying the most for their energy can make the biggest savings by switching," he added.
For example, it was noted that customers in Merseyside and north Wales could save as much as £370 per year if they moved to the current best deal from first:utility's isave v10 internet tariff.
The news comes after Unison claimed some public sector workers are only putting their heating on when the temperature drops below freezing due to the high cost of gas and electricity.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: "It is a scandal that exorbitant energy prices are having such a massive impact on the quality of life of some of the poorest workers in our society."
If you want to find out more about your energy options and how you could save hundreds of pounds in minutes, click here.
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