Fuel poverty ‘now affecting 4 million’

Fuel poverty in England and Wales has grown to the point where four million households are affected, according to a report carried out for the Departm…

Fuel poverty in England and Wales has grown to the point where four million households are affected, according to a report carried out for the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The study headed by Professor John Hills of the London School of Economics, revealed this number has soared from 1.2 million in 2004.

However, these are just the official figures and the study concluded that the method of calculating them is flawed, with Professor Hills suggesting a more useful definition would be to work on two definitions, one showing the number affected and the other showing how badly they are hit.

At present the simple definition of fuel poverty is where more than ten per cent of a household's income has to be spent to pay the energy bills.

The report estimates that the number in fuel poverty could rise to 8.5 million by 2016 unless action is taken

Commenting on the report, energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey remarked: "We want to make our policies as effective as possible and improving fuel poverty measurement is a key part of this.

"I am grateful to Professor Hills and his team for the quality of their work, we will now study the report in detail ahead of consulting on an alternative definition for fuel poverty in the summer."

However it is measured, fuel poverty affects large numbers of people and many could find they are in debt as a result of having to borrow to pay their energy bills.

The exact figure is estimated to be higher by Consumer Focus, whose director of energy Audrey Gallacher said the figure is likely to be around six million.

And Citizens Advice has listed a number of actins it believes the government should take to tackle the problem.

These include checking people get all the benefits they are entitled to, ensure the new energy company obligation contained in the Green Deal is more focused on those in fuel poverty and bring forward the date when the minimum energy efficiency standard for privately rented homes is introduced, as this presently is not due to come in before 2016.

Posted by Paul Thacker
 

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