Number of households at risk of fuel poverty doubles

The number of households at risk of falling into fuel poverty has doubled since the start of the pandemic, Essex County Council has heard.

Before the price cap rise in April, a little over 7.5 per cent of Essex households were identified as in fuel poverty – equivalent to around 50,000 households.

An additional 59,697 households in Essex are facing fuel poverty due to the price cap increase in April, as simulated by a 52 per cent increase in energy prices.

This is equivalent to almost 17 per cent of households in Essex being fuel impoverished – where a high proportion of a household income is used to keep their home at a reasonable temperature.

Essex County Council says for older single-person households with very low pension incomes, prior to the April 2022 price cap rise, 74 per cent of these households were in fuel poverty, rising to 93 per cent following a 52 per cent price increase.

The data suggests that 83 per cent of social renters fall within this cohort – 20 per cent of social renters were likely to be in fuel poverty before the price cap increase, compared to five per cent of private renters and owner-occupiers respectively.

Following a 52 per cent energy price increase, it expects to see 30 per cent of social renters in fuel poverty, compared to 24 per cent of private renters and 26 per cent of owner-occupiers.

Before and after the 52 per cent price cap rise: Percentage of households in each district likely to be in fuel poverty

Prior to the price cap rise, it estimates that 17 per cent of urban social renters cohort was likely in fuel poverty, rising to 45 per cent following a 52 per cent price rise.

Older residents and those on low incomes are also particularly at risk- 14 per cent of this cohort was likely to be in fuel poverty before the 52 per cent price cap rise, with 45 per cent estimated to be in fuel poverty after this increased.

Stephen Simpkin from the Essex Centre for Data Analytics told the Corporate Policy and Scrutiny Committee on April 28 2022 : “We asked what it would take to bring people out of fuel poverty and so we kind of asked the question for £150 pounds a month what would that do and the outcome was it will reduce it by just one percent.

“So it’s not one of those things where it be fixed by a kind of heavy quantities of money.”

Maldon saw over 10 per cent of their households in fuel poverty prior to the OFGEM price cap rise.

This increases to all districts except Brentwood and Epping Forest following the 52 per cent price cap increase.

Nicola Mallett, head of Profession Data and Analytics at Essex County Council said: “We can start to kind of understand who the cohorts are that are most likely to be at risk and kind of where they’re located and therefore when we start sharing this information with districts and district colleagues and they can start to see about how we could do targeted campaigns in relation to the cohorts that we’re highlighting

“So a really good example around kind of financial well-being actually one of our districts was was kind of saying actually we could use this insight giving us the knowing the cohort you’ve given us for these areas to go out and do some kind of proactive communications with them to help them understand and educate what they can do themselves and actually where we can signpost them to kind of appropriate help and support.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter