Fuel poverty challenge must be at the heart of net zero carbon ambitions

13 June 2019

Today [13 June 2019] the UK government has released the latest statistical trends and analysis on fuel poverty in England. The report shows that the number of households in fuel poverty in England is estimated at 2.53 million, representing approximately 10.9 per cent of all English households. This is a decrease from 2.55 million households last year. Despite the numbers being slightly down, the charity warns the impacts of fuel poverty are devastating and millions of people are still unable to afford to adequately heat and power their homes.

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive at NEA said

“Any progress is always to be welcomed, but these figures are still devastating because it means frail people becoming sick or more likely to go to hospital. For many it will mean social isolation, poorer mental health, lower educational achievement and rationing of food and other essentials.

“Despite some steps in the right direction, the impact is only marginal because we are doing less to tackle fuel poverty in England than we did 10 years ago.

“No public money to fund energy efficiency, declining installations of heating systems and higher energy prices.

“However, after the radical and ambitious commitments of this week, action to tackle fuel poverty should now sit squarely at the heart of UK government policy.

“A commitment to a net zero carbon economy will require committing to energy efficiency at a far greater scale. If our responsibility to the fuel poor means anything, we must start in the homes of people whose lives are blighted by fuel poverty.

“The ink may not be dry on the commitment to net zero, but here is an early test and opportunity for UK government to show how the benefits outweigh the costs, in particular for the poorest households.

“Through the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review and Fuel Poverty Strategy, UK government must re-introduce central investment to boost energy efficiency improvements in the hardest to heat homes.”

 NOTES

  1. If you would like more information, please contact Aimee Barber, NEA Communications Officer or call 0191 269 2936. Alternatively, please contact Peter Smith, NEA’s Director of Policy and Research or call 07595 780 893.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. To read the government’s report statistics visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics.

 

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