Almost 8 million people in fuel poverty
The number of people who are fuel poor has soared to almost 8 million and is likely to get worse, a new report warns.
A government commissioned independent review into fuel poverty has proposed a new definition of fuel poverty under which around 7.8 million people will be counted as fuel poor. Findings in the report also show that the government is likely to fail to meet its statory duty to eradicate the problem by 2016.
The report, getting the measure of fuel poverty, also says that by 2016 8.5 million people in 2.9 million households will still be in fuel poverty with an aggregate fuel poverty gap of over £1.7 billion.
The report calls for the government to adopt a new indicator under which households are considered fuel poor if:
- They have required fuel costs that are above the median level; and
- Were they to spend that amount they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.
The report – written by Professor John Hills of the London School of Economics - argues that the government should count the number of individuals in this position as well as the number of households they live in.
Prof Hills said: ‘There is no doubt that fuel poverty is a serious national problem – increasing hardship, contributing to winter deaths and other health problems, and blocking policies to combat climate change.
‘But the official measure has fed complacency at times and gloom about the impact of policies at others.
‘When one focuses on the core of the problem in the way I propose, the outlook is profoundly disappointing, with the scale of the problem heading to be nearly three times higher in 2016 – the date legislation set for its elimination – than in 2003.
‘But this daunting problem is one with solutions. Our analysis shows that improving the housing of those at risk is the most cost-effective way of tackling the problem, cutting energy waste, with large long-term benefits to society as a whole. We need a renewed and ambitious strategy to do this.’