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DECC Reports Decrease In Fuel Poverty
20th May 2012
The 2012 Annual Report on Fuel Poverty Statistics was published last week by the Department of Energy & Climate Change. The publication includes new data for England from 2010, together with estimated data for other UK regions.
The report claims that the number of fuel poor households in England fell to 3.5m in 2010- a welcome decrease from 4.0m in 2009. In the UK as a whole, fuel poverty fell from 5.5m households in 2009 to 4.75m in 2010. The reduction in fuel poverty was caused by three main factors:
- Rising incomes, especially amongst lower income households who are at greatest risk of fuel poverty;
- Improvements in the energy efficiency of the UK's housing stock and the installation of energy efficient boilers. It is claimed that in 2010, 32% of households had condensing boilers compared with 24% just a year earlier;
- Little change in prices for domestic energy between 2009 and 2010.
The UK level of fuel poverty is based on 2010 data for England and Scotland and extrapolated estimates for Wales and Northern Ireland, based on earlier years.
In England in 2010, around 2.8 million vulnerable households were fuel poor, down from 3.2 million in 2009. In the UK as whole, an estimated 4 million vulnerable households were fuel poor in 2010, compared with around 4.75 million a year earlier. A vulnerable household is one that contains the elderly, children or somebody who is disabled or long term sick.
Projections for England indicate there are likely to be around 3.5 million fuel poor households in 2011 and 3.9 million in 2012. Price rises in the second half of 2011 will not fully impact on fuel poverty data until 2012.
The original projections for 2010 over projected fuel poverty by around 0.5 million households, due to:
- Higher than expected income increases, especially for households in the bottom half of the income distribution;
- And greater improvements in energy efficiency of the housing stock, in particular through installations of new, energy efficient, condensing boilers.
Commenting on the Fuel Poverty statistics for 2010, Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said, "I am encouraged by the fall in fuel poverty in the period to April 2011, but there is no room for complacency. Fuel poverty remains a serious national problem and the Coalition is absolutely committed to tackling it.
"People (in England) can still get help with heating and insulation through Warm Front and around 2 million households will get money off their energy bills this year through the Warm Home Discount scheme. However, our ambitious new policies including the Green Deal will go much further. The Green Deal will help people pay for home improvements through savings on their energy bills with extra financial help for the most vulnerable."
Speaking n response to the report, National Energy Action's Jenny Saunders said, "These figures appear to show some progress in reducing fuel poverty between 2009 and 2010 with that progress mainly attributed to rising household incomes. Since this statistical analysis was undertaken we have entered a period of profound economic austerity accompanied by continuing increases in domestic gas and electricity prices. NEA estimates that additional gas and electricity price increases in 2011 mean that more than 5 million households in England now face unaffordable energy costs.
"Yet the Government response has been to effectively halve funding for schemes to improve heating and insulation standards in properties occupied by financially disadvantaged households, despite the fact that energy efficiency is the most rational long-term solution to fuel poverty. From next year, annual expenditure on these heating and insulation programmes will reduce from the 2010-2011 level of £1.1 billion to around £540 million.
"Clearly this action raises serious doubts about the Government's ability to eradicate fuel poverty in England by 2016, as required by the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000. This lack of commitment is further evidenced by the withdrawal of all Treasury funding for energy efficiency programmes from next year in contrast to the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which will continue to support fuel-poor households through their own Government-funded programmes."