400,000 more English homes in fuel poverty
An increase in the price of gas and electricity price at the end of 2011 is estimated to have pushed 400,000 more homes in England into fuel poverty, according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The new projections show that 3.9 million homes in England were in fuel poverty at the end of last year, with more than 10 per cent of their income being spent on energy bills.
DECC figures show there was a significant decrease in the number of UK households in fuel poverty to 4.75 million in 2010, from 5.5 million in 2009.
This improvement was a result of income growth, a fall in energy usage and relatively stable energy prices.
However rising energy prices in 2011 are expected to have reversed the improving trend.
The region of the UK in the deepest fuel poverty is Northern Ireland, where 44 per cent of households are estimated to spend more than 10 per cent of their incomes on heat and power.
In England, 16 per cent of households are in fuel poverty, followed by Wales at 26 per cent and Scotland at 28 per cent.
Age UK warned of the dangers of fuel poverty, with vulnerable groups at risk of suffering ill health and even death as a result.
Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker said: “The Green Deal will help people pay for home improvements through savings on their energy bills with extra financial help for the most vulnerable.”
Energy company E.On has pledged not to increase energy prices for residential customers this year.
E.On’s chief executive Tony Cocker said: “Unfortunately global energy markets are expected to see an overall trend of rising wholesale prices but as a company we believe in acting fairly, which means cutting prices when we can and never raising prices unless absolutely necessary.”