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Fuel poverty statistics estimate the number of households that need to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, as well as meeting their other fuel needs (lighting and appliances, cooking and water heating).

Publications

Annual Statistics Report on Fuel Poverty
Department: Energy and Climate Change
Statistics in support of the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy
Fuel Poverty sub-regional statistics
Department: Energy and Climate Change
Fuel Poverty sub-regional statistics (England only)
Lifetime Opportunities Monitoring Framework
Department: Office of the First and Deputy First Minister
This report presents a range of statistical targets and indicators in support of the Northern Ireland Executive’s anti poverty and social inclusion strategy ‘Lifetime Opportunities'. The monitoring framework is structured around 3 ‘layers’: • Child poverty targets • Poverty and social inclusion indicators • Public service agreement targets Analyses of statistics are on a lifecycle basis and are benchmarked against other jurisdictions when possible
Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Provides information on the value of the economic activity that businesses generate and associated expenditure across the main industrial sectors in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Provides information on the value of the economic activity that businesses generate and associated expenditure across the main industrial sectors in Northern Ireland.

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Overview

A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel to maintain an adequate level of warmth (usually defined as 21 degrees Celsius for the main living area, and 18 degrees Celsius for other occupied rooms) and to meet its other energy needs (i.e. lighting and appliances, water heating and cooking).

Fuel poverty ratio = fuel costs (i.e. usage x price) ÷ income

If this ratio is greater than 0.1 then the household is counted as being in fuel poverty.

In the calculation of this ratio, the fuel usage is modelled to ensure the household achieves the satisfactory heating regime.

In addition to space heating, the fuel costs component also includes modelled spending on energy for water heating, lights and appliances and cooking.

Whether a household is in fuel poverty or not is determined by the interaction of a number of factors, but three specifically stand out. These are:

  • the energy efficiency status of the property

  • the cost of energy, and

  • household income

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Technical Data

Income

Income is measured net of income tax and National Insurance. It is calculated by adding the personal incomes of every member of the household together plus any benefit payments that the household receives (from private source, state benefits and savings) and income-related directly to housing. The latter includes, Housing Benefit, Income Support for Mortgage Interest (ISMI), Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance (MPPI), and Council Tax Benefit (CTB).

Fuel Costs

Fuel costs are modelled, rather than based on actual spending. They are calculated by combining the fuel requirements of the household with the corresponding fuel prices. The key goal in the modelling is to make sure that the household achieves the adequate level of warmth set out in the definition of fuel poverty.

Fuel prices per unit are calculated using data at a regional level and split by payment type. A household’s location, fuel mix (gas, standard electricity, economy7 electricity, heating oils) and fuel payment method (direct debit, standard credit and pre-payment) are matched against the fuel price data to give the cost per unit of fuel required.

The household fuel consumption requirements are modelled based on a number of factors:

  • the size of the property

  • the energy mix usage of each household. Typically around 55 per cent of energy is used for space heating, 30 per cent for lights and appliances, approximately 10 per cent for water heating, and the remainder for cooking 

  • the heating regime applied. There are currently three regimes:

    • a ‘standard heating regime’ where the heating is assumed to be used only in the evening and weekend and is aimed at those who leave the house during the day (for work, study, and so on)

    • a ‘full heating regime’ where the household is heated continuously and is applied mainly to those who do not leave the house during the day (the disabled, sick, unemployed), and

    • a ‘partial heating regime’ applied for people living in houses larger than their needs which assumes only parts of the house are heated at any one time

  • the energy efficiency of the household

Relative effects

This last variable, the energy efficiency of the household, is an important factor affecting the fuel requirement of a household. It is also one of the main variables relating to energy consumption that can be affected by intervention of energy efficiency measures including:

  • EEC, the Energy Efficiency Commitment 

  • CERT, the Carbon Emission Reductions Target which replaced EEC in April 2008

  • Warm Front

  • CESP, the Community Energy Saving Programme

Fuel poverty can often be considered to be an interaction of three main factors only:

  • the energy efficiency of the dwelling

  • the cost of energy, and 

  • household income

The UK Picture

Fuel Poverty is a partially devolved issue with each separate administration having their own targets. The main reason for the partial devolution is that the devolved administrations have the power to affect certain aspects of fuel poverty policies (such as energy efficiency programs) but not others (incomes and market conditions, which impact on fuel prices).

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each publish reports on their national level of fuel poverty. Results for England are published as part of the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy that also collates information from across the UK.

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Glossary

  • Basic Income

    A measure of household income, calculated by adding the personal incomes of every member of the household together plus any benefit payments that the household receives (from private source, state benefits and savings). It excludes income related directly to housing.

  • CERT

    The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), which came into effect on 1 April 2008, is an obligation on energy suppliers to achieve targets for promoting reductions in carbon emissions in the household sector. Originally due to end in 2011, CERT has been extended to run until December 2012 with a new higher target for energy suppliers.

  • CESP

    CESP targets households across Great Britain, in areas of low income, to improve energy efficiency standards, and reduce fuel bills. It is funded by an obligation on energy suppliers and electricity generators. CESP promotes a “whole house” approach, i.e. a package of energy efficiency measures best suited to the individual property. The programme is delivered through the development of community-based partnerships between Local Authorities (LAs), community groups and energy companies, via a house-by-house, street-by-street approach.

  • EEC

    Under the Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC), electricity and gas suppliers were required to meet targets for the promotion of improvements in household energy efficiency. This scheme ran from April 2002 to March 2008.

  • English Housing Survey (EHS)

    The EHS is a national survey of housing in England, commissioned by the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG). It covers all tenures and involves a physical inspection of properties by professional surveyors. The information obtained through the survey provides an accurate picture of the type and condition of housing in England, the people living there, and their views on housing and their neighbourhoods. The EHS was formed in 2008, merging the former English House Condition Survey (EHCS) and the Survey of English Housing (SEH).

  • Full Income

    The full income definition is the income definition used in the calculation of the official headline fuel poverty figure. In addition to the elements included in the basic income measure, it also includes income related directly to housing (that is Housing benefit, Income Support for Mortgage Interest (ISMI), Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance (MPPI), and Council Tax Benefit (CTB)).

  • Household Reference Person

    The Household Reference Person (HRP) is the person in whose name the dwelling is owned or rented or who is otherwise responsible for the accommodation. In the case of joint owners or tenants, the person with the highest income is taken as the HRP. Where incomes are equal, the older is taken as the HRP.

  • Living in Wales Survey

    Living in Wales is a survey carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Welsh Assembly Government. It is the main source of information on households and the condition of homes in Wales. This annual survey is carried out as a face-to-face interview with the household reference person or another appropriate adult. In 2004 a property survey was also carried out, which meant that some respondents received a follow-up visit by a qualified surveyor to undertake a property assessment of their home.

  • Northern Ireland Interim House Condition Survey

    This survey provides a comprehensive insight into housing in Northern Ireland and is carried out every five years.

  • SAP

    The SAP rating is based upon the energy costs associated with space heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting in a dwelling. It is adjusted for floor area so that it is essentially independent of floor area for a given built form. SAP ratings are expressed on a scale of 1 to 100, and the higher the number, the higher the energy performance.

  • Scottish House Condition Survey

    Scottish version of the EHCS, the largest single housing research project in Scotland, and the only national survey to look at the physical condition of Scotland's homes as well as the experiences of householders.

  • Vulnerable Household

    A household containing either the elderly, children or somebody who is disabled or has a long-term illness.

  • Warm Front

    The Warm Front Scheme is the Government's main grant-funded programme for tackling fuel poverty. It installs energy efficiency measures, including central heating and insulation, into vulnerable private sector households. The Scheme offers a package of heating and insulation measures of up to £3,500 (or £6,000 where oil central heating or alternative carbon technologies are recommended).

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Lizzie Brocklehurst

Email: lizzie.brocklehurst@decc.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 0300 068 2808

Department of Energy and Climate Change Energy Statistics Team Ground Floor, Kings Buildings c/o 3 Whitehall Place London SW1A 2AW

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