Government predicts fuel poverty to surge in 2012

May 17th, 2012

The Government has projected that fuel poverty will surge in 2012 to affect 3.9 million households in England alone, up from 3.5 million in 2010.


Meanwhile, new research released today by the Association for the Conservation (ACE) of energy also finds that the government is cutting in half the budget to make fuel poor homes energy efficient, despite evidence that this is the most effective way to bring homes out of fuel poverty.


The Government figures show that fuel poverty figures fell by half a million households in 2010, mostly as a result of energy efficiency measures and stable fossil fuel prices.  But this masks an assault on household energy bills in 2011 as a result of surging gas prices and the decision of the coalition government to take an axe to the fuel poverty budget.  The Energy Bill Revolution alliance campaign estimates that across the whole of the UK there are now over 6 million households in fuel poverty and that this will rise further as gas prices are projected to increase further this year.


The briefing released by ACE today shows that Government investment in energy efficiency has suffered cuts of 17-18% for two years and will have been slashed by over 50% by next year.


Campaigners are calling on the Government to support the Energy Bill Revolution, a campaign asking for carbon tax revenues to be used to make homes highly energy efficient.  From next year the Government will be collecting over £2 billion in carbon tax every year, rising to £4 billion by 2020 and £7 billion by 2027.


This is enough to super-insulate over 600,000 homes a year, bringing 9 out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty. It could also quadruple carbon emission savings from households compared to the Governments new energy efficiency policies and create up to 200,000 more jobs.


The Energy Bill Revolution is already backed by more than 80 leading charities, unions, consumer groups and businesses, including Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, Save the Children, The Children’s Society, National Pensioners’ Convention, Consumer Focus, The Co-operative Group, USwitch, Kingfisher, IKEA, Asda, Kingspan, National Energy Action, Macmillan Cancer Support, TUC, GMB, NUS, Unite, The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and Friends of the Earth.


Ed Matthew, Director of Transform UK and co-ordinator of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign said:

“The coalition Government claims to care about the poor and promised to tackle rising energy bills. Yet they have slashed funding for fuel poor households just as gas prices have surged. They have made a catastrophe out of a crisis. The only permanent solution is to use carbon tax to make every home fuel poverty proof.”


Dr Hilary Emery, chief executive of leading children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau, said:


“Over 600,000 families in England with children under 16 currently live in fuel poverty and at risk of health problems. Children living in a cold, damp home are twice as likely to suffer from asthma and bronchitis as those living in warm homes. They are also more likely to have mental health problems and miss out on school due to time off through illness.”


“Worryingly, research by the Association for the Conservation of Energy shows that spending on alleviating fuel poverty is going down. If we are to solve the problem of fuel poverty once and for all we must maintain our efforts to increase the energy efficiency of homes and protect our children’s health.”


Barnardo’s Chief Executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

“If we’re serious about tackling child poverty then we need to get serious about tackling fuel poverty, too. Families should never have to choose between whether to heat their homes or put food on the table for their children. Barnardo’s would urge the government to tackle the issue of fuel poverty by the root. Recycling carbon tax revenue to make homes energy efficient is a fair and feasible way to begin this process.”


National Pensioners Convention General Secretary Dot Gibson said: “The Government is failing to invest for the future on a realistic scale to tackle fuel poverty and improve fuel efficiency. Older people, in particular, those living in housing in need of insulation are bearing the brunt of rising prices, set against low incomes, and the Green Deal is not going to provide the answer.”


National Energy Action’s Chief Executive, Jenny Saunders, commented: ‘NEA estimates that additional gas and electricity price increases in 2011 mean that more than 5 million households in England now face unaffordable energy costs. ‘Yet the Government response has been to effectively halve funding for schemes to improve heating and insulation standards in properties occupied by financially disadvantaged households, despite the fact that energy efficiency is the most rational long-term solution to fuel poverty. From next year, annual expenditure on these heating and insulation programmes will reduce from the 2010-2011 level of £1.1 billion to around £540 million.


Clearly this action raises serious doubts about the Government’s commitment to the eradication of fuel poverty in England by 2016, as required by the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000. This lack of commitment is further evidenced by the withdrawal of all Treasury funding for energy efficiency programmes from next year in contrast to the Devolved Administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which will continue to support fuel-poor households through their own Government-funded programmes.’



Notes to Editors

  1. For more information on the Energy Bill Revolution go to: or call Ed Matthew, Director of Transform UK on 07827 157906.
  2. For more information, images or case studies of children living in fuel poverty, contact Paul Ilett at Barnardo’s on 020 9498 7364.
  3. For more information on the fuel poverty briefing by the Association for the Conservation of Energy – go to or call Louise Sunderland on 07989 356644 or 0207 359 8000

Key research findings are:

  • National fuel poverty budgets are to be cut by almost 30% in 3 years.
  • £1bn, or nearly a quarter of the total national budget in 2010/11, has already been shaved.
  • Energy Efficiency programmes, found to be the most effective at alleviating fuel poverty, will be cut by 53% of 2009/10 levels next year.
  • Energy efficiency programmes have already suffered cuts of between 17% and 18% each year for the last two years.
  • Nearly 70% of next year’s total budget will go on Winter Fuel Payments, only 12% of the recipients of which are thought to be fuel poor.
MPs supporting the campaign
The only permanent solution to drive down energy bills and end fuel poverty.