Rise in fuel poverty predicted
Published on 18 May 2012 12:00 PM
The number of UK households in fuel poverty dropped in 2010, but last year's rise in energy prices is expected to increase the number of people who spend more than 10% of their income on domestic energy.
According to the 2012 Annual Report on Fuel Poverty released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) the number of homes in fuel poverty fell from 5.5 million in 2009 to 4.75 million in 2010.
The fall was mainly due to rising incomes, relatively stable energy prices at the time and reduced energy consumption.
Projections for England indicated there were likely to be around 3.5 million fuel-poor households in 2011 and 3.9 million in 2012, although the figures will not be published until 2013 and 2014, Decc said.
Northern Ireland remains the most fuel-poor part of the UK, with estimates suggesting 44% of households spend more than 10% of incomes on energy bills.
In Scotland, 28% of the population are fuel poor, Wales is at 26% but England drops to 16%.
Age UK charity director general Michelle Mitchell said: 'We are pleased the fuel poverty figures have fallen after six years of annual rises, but the Government's own projections point to an increase in the numbers of fuel poor households in future, so all the evidence shows this good news is just a temporary interruption in a steady upward trend.
'Living in fuel poverty is miserable. It leads to serious health problems and at worst kills people. The independent Hills Fuel Poverty Review said that even if only 10% of excess winter deaths are due to fuel poverty that would be more deaths per year than the fatalities on our roads.'
Consumer Focus director of energy Audrey Gallacher said: 'Millions of families, older people and disabled people, living on low incomes, will be facing tough daily decisions on what essentials they cut back on to make ends meet.
'Current Government plans are not sufficient to tackle the scale of this problem.
'This is clearly demonstrated by the more than 50% cut in energy efficiency help for the homes of the poorest households in England when fuel poverty levels are on the rise.'
Copyright Press Association 2012