UK’s fuel poverty gap ‘to expand by 9% in 2018’

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the growth would be ‘mainly driven by increases in fuel prices’

By Jonny Bairstow

The fuel poverty gap, measured between households’ energy bills and what they can afford to pay, is expected to expand by 9% between 2016 and the end of 2018.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) forecasts that despite narrowing slightly in 2016, the gap will stretch up from £326 to £357 over the most recent two-year period.

The department said the growth would be “mainly driven by increases in fuel prices” and showed the proportion of households living in fuel poverty in 2016 rose for the second consecutive year to around 2.5 million homes.

Despite the changes in the last two years, in 2016, the average fuel poverty gap of £326 was a fall of 4.4% in real terms from 2015’s figure and continues a steady downward trend seen since 2012.

Around 7.6% of households with insulated cavity walls were in fuel poverty in 2016, while 16.8% of households with uninsulated solid walls were affected, suggesting efficiency measures can have a significant effect.

The level of fuel poverty wass highest in the private rented sector at 19.4%, compared to those in owner-occupied properties at 7.7%.

Northern Ireland halved fuel poverty between 2011 and 2016.