The government has launched a consultation into how ‘fuel poverty’ in the UK is to be measured.
The proposals follow an independent review conducted by Professor John Hills of the LSE earlier in the year, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) pushing for the changes to ensure ‘more accurate measurement’.
A new definition of fuel poverty could well include ‘dual indicators’ with one to measure the number of people affected (extent) and another to measure how badly they are affected (depth).
The new definition could also change the goverment’s fuel poverty reduction targets as laid out in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000. The Act aimed to eliminate fuel poverty by 22 November 2016, ‘as far as is reasonably practicable’.
Announcing the launch of the consultation, a release from DECC stated: “This is not confirmation of a change in the fuel poverty target; it is recognition of the fact that a new definition may not align with the target as it currently stands and this needs to be considered.”
Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary said: “We want to make sure people across the country are able to keep warm in winter and we have a range of schemes in place already doing just that.
“But with the number of people living in fuel poverty projected to rise, the time has come to go back to basics to ensure we are doing all we can.
“This means defining and measuring fuel poverty in the right way and working up a new fuel poverty strategy so that we can target our available resources where they are needed most.”
Fuel poverty is currently defined as the number of households which spend over 10% of their income on their energy bills.
The most recent fuel poverty figures from May this year show that estimated fuel poverty in the UK in 2010 impacted 4.75m households, down from 5.5m in 2009, but that 2012 was likely to see increases.
uSwitch research from 2011 found a huge regional variation in fuel poverty, as detailed in the graphic below:
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