The Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ) has revealed that fuel poverty levels in the UK increased to 13.4% over the course of 2022.
According to the Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics in England, 2023 (2022 data), 13.4% of households were in fuel poverty in England under the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) metric, up from 13.1% in 2021. This is expected to rise further throughout 2023 with DESNZ predicting fuel poverty to increase to 14.4%.
Fuel poverty has increased due to the ongoing energy crisis across Europe, DESNZ said. With soaring wholesale gas costs having increased the average price of energy, many in the UK have slidden into fuel poverty despite measures introduced by the government to prevent this. This includes the Energy Prices Bill.
The average fuel poverty gap for England in 2022, which is recorded as the reduction in fuel costs needed for a household to not be in fuel poverty, was estimated at £338, up by 33% since 2021 when it stood at £254. This is also expected to increase in 2023 with the average fuel poverty gap estimated to rise by 31% to £443.
Energy efficiency measures have also been analysed over the course of 2022. In 2014, the UK government introduced the 2030 fuel poverty target aiming to get “as many households as reasonably possible” to a minimum energy efficiency rating of band C. But despite improvements in energy efficiency, the statistics stated that there had been no increase in the share of households meeting this target.
The 2022 data indicated that the share of households currently meeting this target stands at 52.8%, similar to the year previous. DESNZ stated that this had been impacted by rising energy prices.
Last month, ninety-five charities and non-profit organisations signed an open letter to the chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP, calling for a social tariff to be implemented in the energy market to assist vulnerable households.
This targeted support would encompass those on means-tested benefits, disability benefits and Carer’s Allowance as well as those that don’t receive welfare support but are struggling to keep up with their energy bills. This could help tackle fuel poverty across England and reduce the rising number households finding themselves within this bracket.
The NEA also published its annual Fuel Poverty Monitor in January, which warned that despite the Office for National Statistics’ provisional winter mortality in England and Wales statistics for 2021 to 2022 being low, next year would “expose the full impact” of the energy crisis.
“For our Fuel Poverty Monitor, we spoke to over a hundred organisations across the UK, directly with our clients and polled the general public. From this it’s clear that the energy crisis is having a profound impact on the poorest and most vulnerable households in society,” said head of policy and public affairs at NEA, Matt Copeland.