Thousands in East Devon live in fuel poverty, new figures show

PUBLISHED: 14:00 24 July 2018

Thousands of homes in East Devon are in fuel poverty, according to new figures. Picture: Getty Images

Thousands of homes in East Devon are in fuel poverty, according to new figures. Picture: Getty Images

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Thousands of people in East Devon can't afford to heat and light their homes properly, putting their health at risk, new figures show.

One in 10 East Devon households are in fuel poverty, according to a government report. Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show nearly 6,000 households would be pushed into poverty by the cost of heating and lighting their homes properly.

Across the South West, around 240,000 households are in fuel poverty. Each household is on average £391 short of their required energy bills each year - a measure called the ‘fuel poverty gap’.

A household is considered to be ‘fuel poor’ if they have fuel costs which are above the national median average and if meeting those costs would push them below the poverty line.

A study published in February, by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and climate-focused think tank E3G, estimated fuel poverty accounts for over 1,000 excess winter deaths in England each year.

Peter Smith, co-author of the study and Director of Policy and Research at NEA, said: “We know that living in fuel poverty causes winter hardship and premature mortality.

“The government’s existing set of policies aren’t sufficient in scale to address the problem.”

According to the data, households with four or more occupants are more than twice as likely to be in fuel poverty and over a quarter of single parent households are fuel poor - dramatically higher than the national average. Households in private rented accommodation are also twice as likely to be in fuel poverty than the national average.

In 2018 the Government predicts the proportion of households in fuel poverty will decrease slightly, but that rising energy prices will push the national average fuel poverty gap up by nearly 10%.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “We are introducing a temporary price cap to stop rip-off price rises and unjustified energy prices for households on standard variable and default tariffs. We’re also tackling the root causes by investing £6bn in improving energy efficiency in some of the UK’s poorest homes over the next 10 years.”

However, Mr Smith says that the Government definition of fuel poverty fails to take into account families already below the poverty line, for whom even ‘low fuel costs’ are unaffordable.

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