Fuel poverty: A storm warning
Four million households in England are unable to keep their homes warm according to government figures, released by DECC today. New estimates on fuel poverty levels in England from Consumer Focus, also released today, reveal how the most vulnerable consumers are being hardest hit by fuel poverty.
- Four in every ten single older people are living in fuel poverty compared to three in ten in 2007- making up just over a third (34%) of all fuel poor households
- One in four lone parent households are in fuel poverty compared to one in six in 2007
- Almost one in five households are living in fuel poverty in England. The North East has the highest proportion – with one in four households in fuel poverty
But even this could be the calm before the storm. Price increases fuelled by infrastructure and climate change policies are likely to dramatically increase fuel poverty amongst vulnerable households in the coming years.
But there is a long term solution. We can fuel poverty proof homes by making them energy efficient. In our report Raising the SAP, we found that 83% of households could be taken out of fuel poverty if their homes were brought up to the energy efficiency standard of those built today.
The main energy efficiency programme proposed post 2012 is the Green Deal and, we need that to work for the fuel poor. There are two parts to the scheme – the ‘pay as you save’ element and, energy efficiency work under the energy company obligation (ECO). It is the ECO that needs to be focused, indeed preserved, for the fuel poor if we are going to keep the commitment to end fuel poverty by 2016.