Our response to DECC’s consultation on fuel poverty

’Hills review fundamentally misinterprets the problem’

30 November 2012

CSE has submitted its response to the Department of Energy and Climate Change's consultation on fuel poverty measurement.

DECC's proposals are based on the recommendations of the final report of the Hills’ fuel poverty review which we followed closely and made representations to.

Ian Preston wrote CSE's response and said "Whilst the Hills Review correctly identified problems with the existing definition of fuel poverty, we are concerned that the new definition is not helpful at all.

"The methodology DECC is using is highly complex. This would be OK if the problem had been better defined. But the basic premise of the proposed Hills definition – that fuel poverty corresponds to low income households which have high total fuel costs – is, we feel, grossly over-simplistic and fails to appreciate the issues of affordability for low income households.

"Essentially, it comes down to a difference of views. DECC's approach defines 'affordability' as low income householders with high energy costs. But we believe that fuel poverty occurs wherever, as the term implies, a low income household is unable to afford their fuel costs as a result of both their income and the poor thermal qualities of their home. A small but thermally inefficient property with lower fuel costs is just as likely to be a cold home as a large and thermally efficient one if occupied by people with low incomes."

The indicator proposed by DECC will mean that some 1.3 million households who were previously fuel poor are no longer considered to be so.

"Our definition of fuel poverty – all households or persons that cannot afford their fuel costs due to a combination of low income and inefficient housing –  is more inclusive and, we feel, more meaningful.

CSE's full response to the consulation can be downloaded here.

Stay up to date with our work - sign up for our fortnightly newsletter