Attached is our briefing note for the Westminster Hall Debate on Fuel Poverty secured by Derek Thomas MP (Con, St Ives) on fuel poverty on Wednesday 3 February 2016, 9:30-11:00am.
The 2001 Fuel Poverty Strategy set a target for eliminating fuel poverty by 2016 – a target that has clearly not been achieved. Latest figures show that fuel poverty affects approx. 2.35 million households in England, representing 10% of the population. The Department for Energy and Climate Change estimates that in England the average fuel poverty gap (difference between actual and affordable fuel costs) will reach £386 in 2015, a £155 increase from 2003. Fuel poverty figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are significantly worse although policy in this area is now largely a devolved matter.
There is a clear correlation between fuel poverty and rurality. Latest figures show that over 18% of rural households in England are fuel poor and this figure increases to over 34% for households in sparse hamlets and isolated dwellings. A significant proportion of rural households (34%) are in the harder to treat (HTT) category and often rely upon more expensive fuel types as they do not have access to mains gas. Any development of policy in this area needs to consider how improvements can be made in rural areas, particularly with harder to treat houses.
The Countryside Alliance welcomes this debate and the opportunity it will provide to highlight the problems faced across the country, particularly in rural areas.