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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 a satisfactory heating regime (usually 21 degrees for the main living area, and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms). The latest available estimates suggest that some two million households in the UK in 2004 were in fuel poverty, and thus had difficulty in keeping their homes warm at an acceptable level of cost.
Fuel poverty is caused by the interaction of a number of factors, but three specifically stand out. They are:
Those in the lower income brackets or deciles are more susceptible to fuel poverty, as they are more likely to pay a greater proportion of their income on fuel and keeping warm. For example, figures from the 2004/05 Expenditure and Food Survey indicate that the average percentage of income spent on fuel and power for the lowest three income deciles is 5.5 per cent, compared to just 1.3 per cent for those in the highest three income deciles.
The Government published the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy in November 2001. This set out the target that England and Northern Ireland will seek an end to fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010, with a vulnerable household defined as one containing children, or those who are elderly, sick or disabled. Fuel poverty in other households will, as far as reasonably practicable, also be tackled as progress is made on these groups, with a target that by 22 November 2016, no person in England should have to live in fuel poverty. Those commitments to tackling fuel poverty and providing affordable warmth were reaffirmed in 2003's Energy White Paper.
The 2004 Fuel Poverty dataset is now available and contains the underlying data to the 4th Annual Progress Report. To request your copy, contact bre on: 01923 664147 or email: email@example.com.