15 Feb 2024

CIH responds to stagnating progress in new fuel poverty statistics

New statistics released by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) show that very little progress was made in tackling fuel poverty across England in 2023.

The statistics, released on 15 February, show that the number of households in fuel poverty was effectively unchanged between 2022 and 2023, reducing from 3.18 million to 3.17 million.

However, they also show that for households in fuel poverty, their situations have become much worse. The average fuel poverty gap, a measurement of how much a household’s income would need to increase by to lift them out of fuel poverty, has increased by 20 per cent since 2022, from £348 to £417.

An alternative measure published as part of the statistics, which is designed to measure the affordability of energy, also shows that the proportion of households paying more than 10 per cent of their income on energy (after housing costs are deducted) increased by nearly 10 percentage points, rising from 6.66 million in 2022 to 8.91 million in 2023.

In social housing, the statistics show that fuel poverty was lower because homes in the sector tend to be more energy efficient than the other tenures. However, of social rented homes below EPC Band C, 56 per cent were fuel poor due to lower average incomes among social housing residents.

Responding to the statistics, Dr Matthew Scott, policy and practice officer at Chartered Institute of Housing, said:

“Fuel poverty leads to needless cold-related illnesses, hurts the NHS and local economies, and forces people to resort to unimaginable coping tactics to try and keep themselves and their families warm. As the country continues to experience high energy prices, these statistics show that next to no progress has been made on eliminating fuel poverty between 2022 and 2023.

“In fact, the statistics demonstrate that for people living in fuel poverty, things have become even worse, with over a third of households unable to afford the energy they need to keep warm and safe at home in 2023. Despite generally living in more energy efficient homes, social housing residents continue to be detrimentally affected and there is only so much that housing providers can do to support people with their energy costs.

"With high energy prices here to stay until the end of the decade, CIH are calling on all political parties to make manifesto commitments to a long-term, cross-tenure retrofit programme with adequate funding to improve the country’s leaky housing stock. This needs to be supplemented by minimum energy efficiency standards in the social and the private rented sectors, and a social energy tariff to ensure that everyone can afford the energy they need to heat their homes properly.”