Fuel Poverty

House of Lords written question – answered on 24th November 2010.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird UUP

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their definition of fuel poverty; how many households experience it; how many of the households belong to pensioners; how many of those pensioners are over and under the age of 80; and what is their estimate of the number of deaths in winter over the past three years caused by fuel poverty.

Photo of Lord Marland Lord Marland The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

A household is said to be in fuel poverty it if needs to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel to maintain an adequate level of warmth (defined as 21 degrees for the main living room and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms). The fuel costs in the definition of fuel poverty also include spending on water heating, lights and appliance usage and cooking costs.

In 2008, the latest year for which this information is available, there were 4.5 million fuel poor households in the UK. In England, in the same year, there were 3.3 million households in fuel poverty. Of the fuel poor households in England, 1.7 million contained someone aged 60 or over and 0.5 million contained someone over the age of 80.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show that there were 79,870 excess winter deaths in England between 2006-07 and 2008-09, with over 90 per cent of these being people aged 65 and over. However, there are no data available on the number of excess winter deaths attributable to fuel poverty. Excess winter death figures should also be considered against other factors such as the severity of the winter and flu epidemics.

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