- 4.8 million fuel vulnerable households spend 10% or more of their income on energy, including almost 900,000 homes who spend over 15%
- Both old and young consumers are affected by the issue of energy affordability: over a third of over-75s (34%) and around a sixth of under-30s (16%) are classed as fuel vulnerable
- Of the poorest households, fuel vulnerability affects 1.3 million families, 673,000 homes with disabled residents and 565,000 pensioner households
- uSwitch is calling on the Government to urgently extend the Warm Home Discount to all energy suppliers to help reduce the number of fuel vulnerable consumers.
Nearly one in five British homes are ‘fuel vulnerable’ – spending more than £1 in every £10 of income on sky-high energy bills, according to a new analysis from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.
The new figures reveal that 4.8 million fuel vulnerable homes spend over 10% of their annual income on energy bills, and 900,000 of these spend in excess of 15% of their income.
The data suggests that the issue of fuel vulnerability affects a much broader section of society than many other definitions of energy affordability. All of the country’s poorest households are classed as fuel vulnerable, including 1.3 million families, 565,000 pensioner homes and 673,000 homes with disabled residents. Some 930,000 households with at least one adult in full time employment are also affected.
The figures also show that fuel vulnerability affects both old and young. Over a third (34%) of over-75s and around a sixth (16%) of under-30s spend over 10% of their annual disposable income on energy.
Regionally, the highest proportion of those who are fuel vulnerable are in Wales (24%), followed by the West Midlands (23%) and the East Midlands (22%) – despite the fact that these areas do not all have the lowest average incomes.
Percentage and number of fuel vulnerable households in each GB region
|Region||Percentage of fuel vulnerable households||Number of fuel vulnerable households|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||22%||520,000|
uSwitch.com is urgently calling on the Government to extend the Warm Home Discount scheme – which gives a £140 a year discount to eligible consumers – to help more fuel vulnerable households with their energy bills. Despite recent proposals for standardised eligibility criteria, suppliers still have varying rules about who qualifies for the discount. In addition, many small energy providers, who frequently undercut the big six suppliers on price, are not currently included in the scheme.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com says: “Energy is a basic human need and it is shocking in this day and age that so many consumers, both young and old, are struggling to pay for it. The figures underline the fact that energy affordability affects a large cross section of society, including working families and disabled people. As a result, many could be suffering ill health by rationing their energy use to cope with sky-high bills.
“Urgent action is needed to help the millions of fuel vulnerable households across Britain. The Government should extend the Warm Home Discount to more consumers who are struggling with energy costs, especially as so many of them don’t currently qualify. The scheme should also be extended to all energy suppliers – not just those with over 250,000 customers. The cheapest tariffs are often from newer, smaller providers, and so are out of the reach of those who need them most.
“Energy companies must also continue to do all they can to help fuel vulnerable customers to reduce their bills and offer support for home efficiency improvements.”