Fuel poverty back on the rise
NEA Comment on UK Government annual fuel poverty statistics
Today the UK Government have released the latest statistical trends and analysis of fuel poverty in England using the Low Income High Costs indicator. The report shows that the number of households in fuel poverty in England was estimated at 2.38 million, representing approximately 10.6 per cent of all English households. This is an increase from 2.35 million households in 2013. The average fuel poverty gap (the amount needed to meet the fuel poverty threshold), fell by 2.1 per cent between 2013 (£379) and 2014 (£371). The aggregate fuel poverty gap across all fuel poor households also reduced over this period, from £890 million to £882 million (0.9 per cent).
Peter Smith, Head of Policy and Research at NEA comments:
“It is obviously hugely disappointing to see fuel poverty levels back on the rise following past reductions. It may only be a small increase but following yesterday’s policy announcements it is a timely prompt that we need to see much more ambition from national and local government if we are to end the unnecessary cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty”.
NEA and charity Energy Action Scotland (EAS) produced the annual UK Fuel Poverty Monitor (UKFPM) in May 2016. The report warned of key failings to eradicate fuel poverty across the UK nations and aimed to review fuel poverty policies across the four UK nations.
- NEA is an independent charity working to protect low income and vulnerable households from fuel poverty and exclusion in the energy market. NEA has a network of offices throughout England and also has national offices in Cardiff and Belfast which also work to support deprived communities and low income energy consumers in Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
- NEA works to influence and increase strategic action against fuel poverty at a national level through its policy, research and campaigning functions. The charity similarly works with partners from industry, government and the third sector to deliver practical solutions to UK households – improving access to energy advice, energy efficiency products and other related services for vulnerable consumers. NEA believes that radically improving the fabric and heating of homes represents the most cost effective long-term solution for tackling high energy bills and helping to eradicate fuel poverty. NEA also provide the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Fuel Poverty & Energy Efficiency Group, which was first established in 1995 as the Parliamentary Warm Homes Group, to raise awareness of the problem of fuel poverty and the policies needed to eradicate it.
- Since 2011 there is no longer a common approach to the way fuel poverty is measured across the UK nations. Following Professor Hills’ recommendations the Low Income High Cost (LIHC) indicator definition is now used in England. This states that an individual is considered fuel poor where they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level) and were they to spend that amount; they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line. The low income high cost measure consists of two parts, the number of households that have both low incomes and high fuel costs and the depth of fuel poverty amongst these households.
- Prior to the introduction of the Low Income High Costs indicator in England, fuel poverty was measured under the 10 per cent indicator across the whole of the UK. The 10 per cent indicator continues to be used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under this indicator, a household is considered to be fuel poor if they were required to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel to maintain an adequate standard of warmth. An adequate standard of warmth is usually defined as 21ºC for the main living area, and 18ºC for other occupied rooms. The impact that this divergence in measurement has had across the nations is noted in the annual UK Fuel Poverty Monitor (UKFPM) report.
- Yesterday the Government set out details of a home energy efficiency policy to supersede the current Energy Company Obligation (ECO) which is due to end in March 2017. The new “Help to Heat” policy will initially run for one year (2017-18) followed by a longer term scheme from 2018-2022. Subject to Parliamentary approval of the scheme regulations, the Government has also confirmed that the Warm Home Discount Scheme (WHDS), operated by 11 larger energy suppliers, will be extended to 2020-2021 and has set out details for the first two years of this scheme. To read NEA’s comment click here.
- To read the Government’s report click here
- To read NEA and EAS’s annual UK Fuel Poverty Monitor (UKFPM) report click here.