London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — July 12, 2013
The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is to adopt a new definition of fuel poverty in order to “ensure support is targeted at those who need it most.”
Under the new definition, a household will be defined as ‘fuel poor’ if its total income is below the poverty line (i.e. has an income below 60% of the median once energy costs have been taken account of), and if its energy costs are higher than the typical (median) household.
The current definition is that a fuel poor household would need to spend 10% of their income on energy a year.
The change has come following consultation and an independent review of the current definition by Professor John Hills of the London School of Economics, which found that the current fuel poverty definition distorts understanding of the problem, as at times it can capture some rich households while overlooking others that are struggling with their energy costs.
Government has also introduced amendments to the Energy Bill to set a new target for fuel poverty. It is proposed that this will focus on ensuring that fuel poor households attain a certain standard of energy efficiency in their home by defining an average or a minimum standard for energy efficiency for fuel poor households.
“In the past, action to tackle fuel poverty has been held back by how the problem has been defined,” said Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. “The new definition, together with the amendment that we are making to the Energy Bill, will ensure a focus on the households that are at the heart of the fuel poverty problem. That’s those with both low incomes and high energy costs.”
As fuel poverty is a devolved matter, this new definition applies to England only.