Fuel poverty in the UK increased about 22% from 2008 to 2009, according to the latest figures from the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain an adequate level of warmth (usually defined as 21 °C for the main living area, and 18 °C for other occupied rooms).
In 2009, there were around 5.5 million fuel poor households in the UK, up from 4.5 million in 2008, according to DECC. In England, there were around 4.0 million fuel poor households, up from 3.3 million in 2008.
|Fuel poverty in the UK and England, 1196-2009. Source: DECC. Click to enlarge.|
The increase in fuel poverty between 2008 and 2009 was largely due to rising fuel prices, DECC said. Gas prices rose by 14%, and electricity prices by 5%, between 2008 and 2009. Rising incomes, improvements in the energy efficiency of housing and social and discounted tariffs continue to help some households from falling into fuel poverty and, in some cases, have removed households from fuel poverty.
Fuel poverty figures are calculated across two years, and so price and income changes for two years need to be considered when looking at these figures, DECC said. Projections for England indicate there are likely to be around 4.0 million fuel poor households in 2010 and 4.1 million households in 2011. Although some price rises will impact on households in the latter half of 2011, it will be 2012 before the full impact of these are visible in the fuel poverty data.