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New way to measure fuel poverty proposed

A new way to measure fuel poverty in England is being proposed today by the Government following the independent review on this issue by Professor…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new way to measure fuel poverty in England is being proposed today by the Government following the independent review on this issue by Professor John Hills of the London School of Economics (LSE) published in March this year.

Ensuring more accurate measurement will help to design effective solutions to fuel poverty, allowing the resources available to be targeted where they are needed most.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is proposing to adopt a new definition based on the overall framework suggested by Hills in his review.  This new proposed definition includes dual indicators separating the extent of the issue (the number of people affected) from its depth (how badly people are affected) as a way to measure the problem. 

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said:

“We want to make sure people across the country are able to keep warm in winter and we have a range of schemes in place already doing just that. 

“But with the number of people living in fuel poverty projected to rise, the time has come to go back to basics to ensure we are doing all we can.

“This means defining and measuring fuel poverty in the right way and working up a new fuel poverty strategy so that we can target our available resources where they are needed most.”

The consultation also considers the implication of changing the definition for the fuel poverty target which is currently set out in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000. As the definition of fuel poverty proposed is relative but the current target is focused on eradication as far as reasonably practicable by an end date of 2016, the consultation asks for views on whether the target should be amended to align it with a new type of definition, as recommended by Hills in his review. This is not confirmation of a change in the fuel poverty target; it is recognition of the fact that a new definition may not align with the target as it currently stands and this needs to be considered.

DECC will publish its decisions following consultation early next year, alongside an updated  fuel poverty strategy to ensure resources are being used in the best possible way.

Notes for editors

  1. The 2012 fuel poverty consultation can be found on the DECC website
  2. Professor John Hills’ independent review on fuel poverty can also be found on the website. For media enquiries on the contents of the review please contact LSE press office on 020 7955 7060 or at
  3. The current definition of fuel poverty is as below:
    A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income (after tax) on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime (usually 21 degrees for the main living area, and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms).
  4. According to the current definition of fuel poverty there were 3.5 million households living in fuel poverty in England in 2010 (Statistical press release: Fuel poverty, England and the UK 2010).
  5. The current fuel poverty target, as set out in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, is to ensure that as far as reasonably practicable no person lives in fuel poverty by an effective target date of 2016.
  6. Government currently has a range of fuel poverty policies already in place: Assistance with heating and insulation measures is currently provided through policies like Warm Front and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target helping keep homes warmer and cosier through the year. There is also direct support with energy bills for low income and vulnerable households through the Warm Home Discount scheme.  In the future the Energy Company Obligation will be one of the key policies in this area. Part of this scheme will specifically be designed to provide “Affordable Warmth” to low income vulnerable households, through heating and insulation measures. The Energy Company Obligation will ensure that support for the fuel poor remains and continues to be targeted at those most in need.
  7. Read the Written Ministerial Statement by Ed Davey.



Published 18 September 2012