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New proposal to change the way fuel poverty is measured in the UK

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The UK government is proposing a change in the way that fuel poverty is measured in England after an independent review this year.

John Hills of the London School of Economics led the review published in March this year,  and advised that fuel poverty is a serious problem in this country which is likely to get worse.

He also said that the current definition of fuel poverty is not accurate, and this could be better targeted to help those most in need of help with their fuel bills.

At the moment, fuel poverty is measured by the percentage of the household’s income that is spent on fuel alone. Fuel poverty is defined by households that spend more than 10% of their income on energy costs, which amounts to some 5.5 million households.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) want to adopt a new definition based on the framework suggested in the review. This will have two indicators – how many are affected by fuel poverty and the ‘depth’ of the problem or how badly they are affected.

According to Hills, using the new definition would put nearly 8 million people into the bracket of fuel poverty in 2.7 million households across the UK, as of 2009 when the most complete figures are available.

DECC are now consulting on the new definition and how it should be aligned with the target for eradicating fuel poverty by 2016 as laid out in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act of 2000.

“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,” commented Energy Secretary Ed Davey yesterday in a statement. “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.”

DECC has said that it will publish it’s decisions based on the consultation early next year, with an updated strategy for fuel poverty.

“[We will] publish an updated strategy in the New Year, which will set out the final decision on the new definition of fuel poverty, our intentions on the target and will be an opportunity to set out a refreshed plan for tackling fuel poverty, to ensure we the Government is using its resources as effectively as possible,” added Davey in his statement.

The consultation is now open for comments until 30th November.

For further information:
www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/fuel_poverty/fuel_poverty.aspx
www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/funding/Fuel_poverty/Hills_Review/Hills_Review.aspx

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