Fuel poverty household numbers drop following definition change

http://www.theinformationdaily.com/2013/08/08/fuel-poverty-household-numbers-drop-following-definition-change

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, August 8, 2013 – 13:16 GMT

There has been a drop in the number of households in England struggling to meet energy price costs in 2011, according to the government who has recently set out a new definition for what fuel poverty means.

Until July 2013 any household which spent more than ten per cent of income on gas and electricity was defined as poor, which according to the government meant that many wealthy households fitted into the same bracket as low income houses.

The Low Income High-Cost (LIHC) definition, which has seen a drop in the number of people defined as fuel poor, will now only include households which have required fuel costs that are above average, and where residential income is below the official poverty line.

According to the new measure, around 2.39 million households in England were fuel poor, which is a drop of around 84,000 households since 2010.

It also suggests that the number of people living in fuel poverty has remained roughly the same for the past decade, whilst the previous definiition showed the number of fuel poor houses rise dramatically since 2003.

The gap between what people can afford to pay and their fuel bills has risen sharply under the new measure, with it doubling between 2003 and 2011. The new figures suggest the fuel poverty gap will increase.

In 2003, the aggregate fuel poverty gap was £606 million whereas in 2011 it had risen to £1.047 million. Between 2010 and 2011, it increased by £23 million to £1.05 billion, and the average fuel poverty gap increased by £24 to £438.

Commenting on the report, Energy Minister Michael Fallon said the new measure was “better targeted” at the most vulnerable in society.

“Two million households received cuts to their bills last winter under the Warm Homes Discount, and the budget will continue to increase each year, up to £320m for 2015/16.

“We are pressing the big six to make sure the poorest households aren’t stuck on expensive tariffs, to simplify their rates and make it easier to switch".

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