In simple terms, fuel poverty is when householders cannot afford to adequately heat their homes. A “fuel poor” household has above average energy costs, and paying those costs pushes the household below the poverty line. This is causing ill-health and misery for many households in the UK. 

The “poverty fuel gap” refers to the difference between a fuel poor household’s actual energy bill and the size the bill would need to be for it to be considered affordable.

Why Are 3.2 million UK Households in Fuel Poverty?

There is no question that is the UK has a fuel poverty problem; Here are the three main causes.

#1: Household Income: 

Lower income households tend to spend a higher proportion of their budget on energy bills, leaving them with very little money left to get by adequately.  

#2: Energy Efficiency: 

Many households are not mindful enough of their energy-efficiency. Inefficient energy usage leads to higher bills.

#3: Fuel Prices: 

With the UK amid an energy crisis, market prices for fuel are soaring and energy price caps are increasing. Households around the country are struggling to deal with constantly increasing prices.

Who Is Affected by Fuel Poverty?

The truth is that fuel poverty affects a lot of people, especially those who are unemployed, elderly people that live alone, disabled people, households with low incomes and those living in energy inefficient properties. 

In Scotland, for example, 619,000 households were in fuel poverty in 2018. In Wales 155,000 households were classed as fuel poor. Northern Ireland had around 131,000 households and in England the fuel poverty classification covered about 2.53 million homes.

How Can Fuel Poverty Be Reduced?

The government has been taking several steps to decrease fuel poverty among the most affected people. Some of these measures include the introduction of energy price caps, the National Living Wage, and by helping households become more energy efficient.

The government is aware of how fuel poverty is affecting households in the UK and has been taking measures to decrease it but there are also ways homeowners can help themselves. 

#1: Continued investment into making homes more energy-efficient: 

One of the main causes of fuel poverty is the fact that many homes are not energy efficient, so the government has created some plans with clear goals designed to make homes warmer and more energy efficient. The Green Homes Grant and the Home Upgrade Grant are examples of plans that the government have already put into place to tackle this issue. Homeowners can also help themselves by keeping track of their energy usage and finding ways to reduce it.

#2: Increase household income: 

This can be accomplished by assisting those who are unemployed in getting jobs and increasing pay for those in fuel poverty with jobs. The government have already begun to help this situation by introducing the Universal Credit scheme for unemployed people and by increasing the National Minimum Wage.

#3: Continue the regular updates of price caps: 

Price caps were put in place to give some element of protection to consumers, as they prevent energy companies from charging homeowners extortionate prices.

In order to deal with the prevalence of fuel poverty in the UK, the government may consider reducing price caps in the future. 

#4: Information gathering: 

One of the most important steps to solving this issue is to identify those who are most affected and make sure that they are the first to receive help. Understanding who the most vulnerable families and individuals are, is essential to finding solutions that can get the most households out of fuel poverty.

Bottom Line

It is a fact that the UK is living amid an energy crisis and a significant portion of the population is struggling to pay their energy bills. The government is already taking measures to prevent energy prices from getting out of hand, as well as implanting ways to assist those who are struggling. But while this is a good sign, it is important to realize that the UK is not alone. There are many countries that are also being affected by fuel poverty. This is the time to act to help households find solutions to avoid falling into fuel poverty.