A further 100,000 people were pushed into fuel poverty in 2022, new figures show, as households brace for another energy bill hike.
The Government said there were an estimated 13.4 per cent of households – working out as 3.26 million – in England last year who were unable to afford to keep their home adequately heated. This is up from 13.1 per cent – 3.16 million – in 2021, according to its annual fuel poverty statistics published today.
Some 30.3 per cent, or 7.39 million, of households had to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on energy costs, up from 20.5 per cent (4.93 million) in 2021.
The lack of energy efficient homes and soaring energy prices are the reason for the increase, according to the Government. This comes as the Energy Price Guarantee, where the typical household will pay £2,500 a year for their gas and electricity, is set to rise to £3,000 in April at the same time the Government’s monthly support payments come to an end.
The situation ‘will not get better’, campaigners warn, with the Government predicting the number of people in fuel poverty will increase to 14.4 per cent (3.53 million) in 2023.
Adam Scorer, Chief executive of National Energy Action, said: “The worst of the energy crisis is not represented [in this data]– people are being forced to self-disconnect, struggling with ice on the inside of their windows and living with damp and cold.
“From April the average annual bill will rise and that means without Government intervention – both for energy efficiency measures and financial support with bills – the number in fuel poverty will continue to rise.”
The figures also show that despite improvements in energy efficiency, there has been no increase in the number of households meeting the 2030 fuel poverty target set to ensure that as many fuel poor homes as is reasonably practicable achieve a minimum energy efficiency rating of band C, by 2030
Currently, 52.8 per cent of all low income households living in a property with a fuel poverty energy efficiency rating of band C or better.
The data also shows that 160,000 low-income homes that have been left particularly exposed to the impacts of the energy crisis.
A survey from National Energy Action says that those households in EPC F/G properties, the least efficient of homes, need to spend £1,785 more than equivalent EPC C homes to stay warm at current prices.
Experts say the Government now needs to find a way to continue helping the most vulnerable households with soaring bills.
Richard Neudegg, director of regulation at Uswitch, said: “Many households received a helping hand even if they didn’t need it, and for those in most need, it wasn’t always enough.
“The energy crisis has demonstrated how vital it is that the UK’s most vulnerable customers are protected.
“In the longer term more targeted support for the vulnerable is crucial, which could include an energy social tariff for those who need it most.”