This post is a collaboration with University of Kent students. The opinions in this piece are those of our guest blogger and do not necessarily represent those held by Sustainability Connections.
Guest blog by: Charlie Hartherley
Fuel Poverty is defined as a household needing to spend more than 10% of its income on fuelling and heating the home.
This would mean that you cannot properly heat your own home to comfortable temperatures without falling into debt or poverty.
The Government is monitoring fuel poverty through a survey called Households Below Average Income (HBAI).
The poverty line for one adult and one child is a lower level than a two parent family with more children. Unfortunately, the poverty line does not yet consider other important features such as disability, carers and so on.
An example of the poverty line for 2014/2015, for a couple and a lone parent with two children, excluding housing costs:
Family Composition Per month Per year
Lone parent (2 children) £1,261 £15,132
Couple (2 children) £1,703 £20,436
What causes Fuel Poverty?
Despite Government intervention with a variety of schemes, the number of houses considered to be in fuel poverty has not decreased in line with Government targets (energy-uk.org.uk).
Today, 1 in 10 households are in fuel poverty. This equates to more than 2.3 million families in the UK (guardian.com).
Consequently, as of this moment, many households will be facing the crisis of ‘heat or eat’ this winter.
In the UK at the moment, fuel poverty is believed to be driven by three main factors - energy efficiency of the home, energy costs, and household income.
The easiest factor to address of the three is energy costs - switching to a cheaper deal can help people who are having to make tough choices about where to spend their money this winter .