The government has published findings from its annual report on fuel poverty in England.

The Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report, published yesterday (26 June) reveals the proportion of UK households in fuel poverty has increased by 0.1 per cent in one year.

According to the report, which aims to provide a comprehensive view of the latest statistical trends and analysis of fuel poverty across the country, 11.1 per cent met the fuel poverty threshold in 2016. This amounts to approximately 2.55 million households.

UK fuel poverty is measured using the low income high costs indicator. A household is considered to be fuel poor if they have required fuel costs above average (the national median level), and if paying that amount would result in a residual income below the official poverty line.

Despite the concerning figures, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the amount needed to meet the fuel poverty threshold has decreased. In 2016, the average fuel poverty gap was estimated at £326. This was a decrease of 4.4 per cent from 2015, continuing a steady downward trend since 2012.

The aggregate fuel poverty gap also continued to decrease in 2016 to £832 million, a fall of 1.8 per cent.

Progress was also made towards the interim 2020 fuel poverty target, with 91.3 per cent of all fuel poor households living in a property with a fuel poverty energy efficiency rating of Band E or above.

The report reveals 80.8 per cent of fuel poor households are connected to the gas grid. However, households not connected to the gas grid are approximately 1.5 times more likely to be fuel poor than the national average.

Approximately 31.4 per cent of fuel poor households pay for electricity by prepayment. These households are more than twice as likely to be fuel poor than the national average, the report shows.

Responding to the report’s findings, Energy UK’s chief executive, Lawrence Slade, said:“While it is positive that the statistics are slowly improving, the report shows that there is still lots to do if the government are to meet their statutory targets.

“Energy suppliers continue to work hard to ensure there is advice and support for their customers in fuel poverty, and this year Energy UK launched an independently-chaired commission for customers in vulnerable circumstances to look at ways the industry can further improve the help available to those in the most need.”

Slade added: “The government must also ensure that assistance programmes are better targeted and support those that are genuinely in need – the fuel poor. Energy efficiency must also be a national infrastructure priority as improving the energy efficiency of Britain’s houses will be the only way to address fuel poverty in the long term and – as proved at the recent Utility Week summit – this is something all political parties support.”

The report, which includes data from 2016, also gave projections of the number of households in fuel poverty in 2017 and 2018. BEIS expects the average fuel poverty gap to broadly remain the same, with a change from £326 in 2016 to £327 in 2017.

In 2018, the average fuel poverty gap is expected to increase to around £357. BEIS said this is mainly driven by increases in fuel prices.

Utility Week will look at these issues and vulnerability more broadly at the Consumer Vulnerability Conference in London on 5 July. To book a place or for more information visit our events website.