Fuel Poverty – the Facts
Even at a conservative estimate, based on the Government’s new definition in England, there are currently 2.5 million households which are estimated to be living in fuel poverty, that is they are unable to afford to heat their homes to the level required for comfort and wellbeing.
Fuel poverty is caused by three factors;
- Inadequate heating and insulation
- Low incomes
- The increasingly high cost of energy
It is most prevalent amongst vulnerable households including;
- Those on low incomes
- People with children under the age of 16
- People with disabilities or suffering from a long-term illness
- Older people
The consequences of fuel poverty range from psychological stress, worry and social isolation, to causing or exacerbating serious illness such as respiratory and circulatory conditions. Those in fuel poverty often have to face the stark choice between spending what they need to heat their home adequately and either falling into debt; or rationing their energy use and living in cold damp homes that are dangerous to their health. Others spend money on fuel and reduce their purchasing of other necessities, such as food.
Fuel poverty can be particularly severe in rural areas where properties are often colder, are not suitable for cavity wall insulation, and are off the gas network and so have to rely on more expensive forms of heating.