Fuel Poverty

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Fuel Poverty affects approx. 2.5 million people in the UK.

A household is considered to be fuel poor if:

  • They have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level).
  • They were to pay that amount the household would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line

Fuel poverty graphic.png

Source: Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report (2017)

*Note: FPEER refers to the energy efficiency rating of a property as defined by the government.

I'm interested in tackling climate change. Why should I talk to my MP about fuel poverty?

The refurbishment of our homes and buildings is one of the greatest opportunities we have to reduce the UK's carbon emissions. The UK's housing stock is amongst the least energy efficient in Europe and is responsible for nearly a quarter of our annual carbon emissions. Talking with your MP about fuel poverty addresses the issue of climate change in an alternative and creative way, engaging MPs who have a wide range of interests.

Government Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report

Key Findings:

  • In 2014, the number of households in fuel poverty in England was estimated at 2.38 million (approx 10.6% of all English households. This is an increase from 2.35 million households in 2013).
  • Households with lower energy efficiency bands have a higher likelihood of being fuel poor.

 Health implications of living in a cold home:

Fuel poverty primarily affects the most vulnerable including the elderly and people with existing health conditions.

  • The risk of experiencing severe ill health or disability during childhood and early adulthood is increased by 25% if an individual lives in poor quality housing.

  • Chances of developing mental health issues increase by 50% in cases where people are living in a home under the desired temperature of 21 degrees (Community Action on Fuel Poverty).

  • Each year around 20,000 more people aged 65 or over in England and Wales die in winter months than in other months (poverty.org

There is heightening pressure on Local and NHS services as we see an increase of those suffering from environmentally aggravated illnesses. Community Action on Fuel Poverty estimates that the UK spends £22 billion in NHS treatment for cold related admissions.

What is already being done?

October 2017 saw the publication of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy (CGS). The strategy has been criticized for missing the UK’s 5th carbon budget (a 57% reduction against 1990 levels by 2030) by 10%. One of the main reasons for this short falling is a lack of policy to increase energy efficiency. The Clean Growth Strategy sets out how the Government intends to meet its manifesto pledge to upgrade all fuel poor homes to Energy Performance Certificate C by 2030. Since 2013 the mechanism for doing this has been the Energy Company Obligation* (ECO) which provides £640 million per year in funding. However the EEIG estimates that to meet current targets the scheme would need £1.3 billion per year. The CGS has confirmed the continuation of Eco until 2028 but only at the current level of funding.

*Energy Company Obligation (ECO): an energy efficient scheme to help reduce emissions and tackle fuel poverty. The latest changes to the scheme happened in 2017.  This offers fuel poor households money off energy efficiency measures. The scheme is funded by energy suppliers who add the cost of the scheme to everyone's bills. 

Fuel Poverty in the Rented Sector: There are about 680,000 rented properties in England with the worst energy efficiency ratings of F and G. Over forty per cent of households in these worst insulated rented homes live in fuel poverty (DECC, 2010).

From the 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) (Residents Landlord Association). The lowest efficiency rating is G, so therefore E is still incredibly low efficiency. Consumer Focus estimates that by setting the minimum standard even higher at Energy Efficiency Band D, 300,000 households would be able to afford to keep their rented homes warm that cannot today.


Tackling fuel poverty can involve 1) reducing the future prevalence of fuel poverty by raising energy efficiency standards for new builds 2) Reducing current prevalence of fuel poverty by retrofitting existing homes.

Improving the energy efficiency of new builds

 A picture taken with a Thermal Imaging camera. The house on the left has had external cladding, highlighting the loss of heat from the house on the right in the absence of sufficient insulation. 

A picture taken with a Thermal Imaging camera. The house on the left has had external cladding, highlighting the loss of heat from the house on the right in the absence of sufficient insulation. 

Any new dwelling is required to have SAP Calculations (a measure of energy efficiency) carried out, but there are currently no energy performance requirements in the current building regulations. You can discuss the low energy efficiency targets with your MP and ask for an upgrade of building regulations to ensure that all new properties are energy band A or B. Decisions made today will have huge implications for future carbon emissions.

Retrofitting Existing Houses

Even if building regulations required that all new builds had very high energy efficiency standards, millions of homes around the UK would still be left with an energy rating of D and below. To meet the UK's carbon emission targets (see 'The Climate Change Act of 2008'), this will require retrofitting.

Retrofitting involves the addition of new features to older housing such as better insulation, double or triple glazed windows and blocking drafts.

‘Under the Climate Change Act, we have to achieve at least an 80% reduction in the carbon emissions from our homes by 2050. We need to be building homes now that are 2050 ready.’

— Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive, Energy Saving Trust

You can produce a fact sheet for yourself like the one below. Include some of the facts you may wish to use during a meeting with your MP, to highlight how much this issue affects your local area.


Fuel Poverty Nationally

  • The number of households in fuel poverty in England in 2015 was estimated at 2.5 million (approx. 11 % of all English households. National Statistics UK.

  • The Government has announced plans to install solar panels on 800,000 low income households over the next 5 years.

Fuel Poverty in Liverpool

  • 14.4% of Liverpool households are in fuel poverty (29,484 households). Liverpool is ranked 20th out of 326 local authority areas in England (Community Action on Fuel Poverty).

  • In 2011/12, Liverpool recorded 170 excess winter deaths, ranking 10th out of the 326 local authority areas.

What can I ask my MP to do?


  • More funding is needed to for the government to meet its manifesto pledge of upgrading all fuel poor homes to Energy Performance Certificate C by 2030. You could ask your MP to ask a question challenging the large gaps in proposed funding and the funding that is required.

  • You can talk to your MP about the urgent need for an upgrade of building regulations to ensure that all new properties are energy band A or B. This will reduce the incidence of fuel poverty in the future and drastically reduce the 40% of UK carbon emissions that come from domestic buildings.

  • Thank your MP for the government's announcement around minimum energy efficiency standards for rented properties. It is great that new new regulations are coming into force. However there are still concerns around the enforcement of the standards and the affordability loophole. You could discuss with your MP options for tightening regulations and ensuring that councils have the power and resources to make sure landlords implement these standards. 

  • You may wish to talk to your MP about the scaling up of energy efficiency regulations over time, to keep on track with the UK's carbon budgets.



  • You can ask your MP to show support for a new community energy project, or visit an existing project in your local area.
  • Your MP may be willing to work with and support your local council in retrofitting poor quality housing in your area.

If your MP has a particular interest in tackling fuel poverty, then also visit our Community Energy page; community energy can help tackle energy security and reduce energy bills.