The Government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released the most recent fuel poverty statistics from 2018. We can see a number of trends within this data that we can use to provide targeted support to households in fuel poverty.
A household is classed as being in fuel poverty if they are Low Income, High Cost:
- Their fuel costs are above average
- Their disposable income (after housing and fuel costs) is below the poverty line
There are three main factors which contribute to a house being fuel poor:
- Energy inefficient homes
- High energy costs
- Low incomes
In 2018, approximately 1 in 10 households were fuel poor (10.3%). This is a decrease from 2017 by 0.7%. These figures are based on the Low Income, High Cost indicator, which is set to be changed by BEIS as outlined in their Fuel Poverty Strategy consultation. This indicator has shown to not accurately capture the reality of fuel poverty, as it allows households to move in and out of the fuel poverty classification dependant on temporary circumstances. It is likely that the 10.3% is not truly reflective of fuel poverty in England, and the true amount of households in fuel poverty is likely to be much higher. It does provide a useful base value to help with reaching fuel poor households, however.
The majority of fuel poor households live in a band D property. This is an Energy Performance Certification (EPC) based on assumed energy usage of a property. A band D is the average for English households, and under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) legislation is set to be a minimum standard required for private rental properties by 2025.
Those who live in the least efficient properties (band E, F and G) are subject to fuel bills 3 times higher than those in the most efficient properties (A , B and C). Households in band G are almost 3 times more likely to be fuel poor.
Pre-payment price cap
Historically, households on a pre-payment meter for their gas or electricity have been subject to the highest fuel bills. Due to the prepayment price caps enforced by regulatory body Ofgem, households on prepayment meters are no longer the most likely to be fuel poor. It is now those on standard credit meters who are more likely to be fuel poor – this can be tackled by switching to a fixed tariff with guaranteed prices for an agreed contract length (usually 12 months).
Single parent households are most likely to be fuel poor, with 19% of those in fuel poverty being single parent households. Fuel poverty can affect children’s physical health – children living in bad housing conditions are likely to have mental health problems including anxiety and depression, and are subject to poor physical health as they are more likely to contract meningitis, have respiratory problems and experience slow physical growth and delayed cognitive development.
Households living in privately rented homes are the most likely to be fuel poor, and those in social housing are the least likely to be fuel poor. The majority of fuel poor households are owner occupied (51.3%).
Fuel Poverty in Portsmouth
The South East collectively has the lowest proportion of households in fuel poverty at 7.9%, and Hampshire only 6.8%. Portsmouth, however, has a rate higher than the national average of 10.8%.
Switched On Portsmouth has a wide range of support available to support fuel poor households in Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant. Portsmouth City Council recently launched its “Energy and Water at Home Strategy” which has a strong focus on supporting fuel poor households, and to reduce this rate of fuel poverty.
By Anttonia Lindup