Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2020 is today, the 27th of November.
A household is classed as being in fuel poverty if their fuel costs are above average and their disposable income (after housing and fuel costs) is below the poverty line.
In 2018, 1 in 10 English households were fuel poor with an average gap (reduction in fuel bill needed for the average fuel poor household to no longer be fuel poor) of £334 per year.
Single-parent households are most likely to be fuel poor (19%) and couples over 60 have the largest average gap (£393). Households with an unemployed adult are three times more likely to be in fuel poverty than the national average.
Fuel poverty is associated with harmful health effects. Excess winter deaths occur every year between December and March caused by cold and damp living conditions. Cold temperatures raise blood pressure, worsening circulatory problems. Cold, damp air is significantly linked to respiratory disease. Mental health can also be severely affected by the dire situation sufferers of fuel poverty find themselves in. In 2014 it was estimated that fuel poverty cost the NHS up to £80m per annum in Scotland due to the health impacts of cold, damp housing.
This winter could be the most challenging for fuel poor customers in years. Those who were already struggling with energy bills may find that their situation worsens. Others who last year had no struggle in paying for their heating may suddenly find themselves unable to do so.
Many people are spending additional time at home and may need support with how to keep warm and safe; while those who are ill or self-isolating may also have concerns about the process of paying for their energy, particularly if they have a pre-payment meter.
Fuel poverty rates are controlled by three factors: energy efficiency, energy prices and incomes. With incomes dropping this year due to Covid-19’s detrimental effects on many people’s jobs, it is extremely important that there is a widespread improvement in the energy efficiency of fuel poor households.
The UK’s Green Industrial Revolution plan aims to do so (link). This long term strategy to reach net zero contains plans on how the UK will make our buildings more energy efficient with low carbon technology to help make people’s homes warm and comfortable, whilst keeping bills low.
To read more on the UK government’s policies on fuel poverty, visit here.
To get involved in Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2020, use the following hashtags on social media to bring attention to this worrying issue: