Fuel Poverty - A Growing Number of UK’s Homes are Cold

Fuel poverty, that is inability to keep the home adequately warm or spending more than 10 percent of the total income to do so, is affecting more and more British households. There are a number of schemes, programmes and grants to help the most vulnerable households but the most recent statistics on the issue reveal that more needs to be done to reverse the growing number of households in fuel poverty. It is not just a matter of comfort but it is also about saving people’s lives. Cold homes are estimated to be directly or indirectly responsible for 25,000 deaths in the UK each year.

When a Household is Considered to be Affected by Fuel Poverty?

A household is considered to be affected by fuel poverty when its members are unable to keep it adequately warm or are spending more than 10 percent of the total income on heating. In England, adequately warm means keeping the daytime temperature at 21 degrees Celsius in the living room and at least 18 degrees Celsius in other rooms. According to the latest statistics, about 2.3 million homes were fuel poor in 2015. And contrary to popular belief, the inability to properly heat the home isn’t only affecting those on benefits and pensioners.

About One Half of Energy Poor Households Have at Least One Working Member

Fuel poverty is much more common than most people think. And it isn’t only limited to pensioners and the unemployed. It is also affecting households with at least one working member and they account for nearly one half of all fuel poor households in the UK. Also, about 1.5 million children in Britain are estimated to be living in inadequately heated homes.

Most Cases of Fuel Poverty Caused by a Combination of Two or Multiple Factors

Low income is the leading cause of fuel poverty in the UK. This means that the majority of cold homes are inadequately heated because the household’s members simply don’t have enough money. However, low income families are often also living in energy inefficient buildings which makes the problem even worse. In addition to spending a larger proportion of their income, fuel poor families are thus also spending more on heating in comparison to those living in well-insulated buildings. And since low income prevents them from insulating their homes or/and investing in more energy efficient heating systems, many households have fallen into the vicious cycle of fuel poverty which is further aggravated by the continuously rising energy prices. Most cases of fuel poverty in the UK are thus caused by a combination of two or multiple factors.