Fuel Poverty Campaign

Thermal image of house

What’s the problem?

Fuel poverty is currently defined as when a household spends a tenth or more of its income on fuel to achieve an adequate level of warmth.

In Leeds, this applies to around 1 in 5 households, or roughly 64,000 people city-wide.

Nationally, it is estimated that 5.1 million households were living in fuel poverty in 2011, or around a quarter of the UK’s population – and this is increasing each year.

Fuel poverty is a complicated problem, and stems from:

  •    a national housing stock that is not fit for purpose

-        There are 26 million properties in the UK

-        Many are old – 8.4 million were built before 1945

-        70% of homes are owner occupied

-        43% of homes are ‘hard to treat’

-        Many don’t have basic insulation

  •  burgeoning inequality

-        A squeeze on the lowest household incomes since the 1970s combined with the added pressure of a recessive economy in recent years has meant that, fac­­ed with soaring energy costs, vast numbers of people are struggling to heat their homes.

-        The Green Deal and ECO, which will replace Warm Front and CERT, will see the poorest 10% spending a greater fraction of their cash on their energy bills.

  •  spiralling energy prices

-        From 2000 to 2010, average electricity bills increased in real terms by 30%

-        Average gas prices increased in real terms by 78%

-        Rises in prices having mainly been driven by rising costs of fossil fuels.

-        The prices of fossil fuels are predicted to increase another 30% in the next 10 years. This will tip millions of people into fuel poverty in the UK.


Check out Friends of the Earth’s video showing how much the energy companies are giving back to the people of Britain:

This is part of the Friends of the Earth Demand Change campaign.

What all this means, is that fuel poverty is a social problem and shouldn’t be considered inevitable. ­

We shouldn’t think of fuel poverty as solely a private matter, that is, a result of individual life choices or ‘irresponsible budgeting’.

The roots of the fuel poverty issue go beyond any single individual, and therefore require wider solutions that focus on fuel prices, income inequality, central and local government, housing policy etc.

Furthermore, around one third of the UK’s carbon emissions are a result of heating our buildings.

Increasing the thermal energy efficiency of our houses through super-insulation and sustainable energy projects are an important way of reducing our carbon footprint as a city, and will prove to be an essential step forward if we are to meet the City Council’s commitments to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2040.

Want to know what it’s like to live in fuel poverty and what people all over the UK are doing about it? Check out our Southern friend’s short film. From Fuel Poverty Action: