Labour fury as number of households in fuel poverty hits highest since 2009

Posted On: 
29th June 2017

The number of families living in fuel poverty has hit its highest level since 2009, official figures revealed today.

Families are considered in fuel poverty if their bills are above average and would push them below the poverty line
Credit: 
PA Images

Some 2.5 million households had above average fuel costs that left them below the poverty line in 2015, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The figure means about 11% of families were living in fuel poverty that year - up 0.4% compared with the year before but lower than the recent high of nearly 12% in 2009.

Tory winter fuel allowance axe could mean 4,000 extra pensioner deaths, say Labour

Theresa May admits she does not know how many pensioners will lose winter fuel allowance

Tories condemned for protecting winter fuel in 'colder' Scotland but not in England

Labour hit out at the Conservatives after Theresa May dropped her plans for an energy price cap and said the “shocking” figures today showed “austerity has failed”.

During the election campaign the Conservatives also came under fire for their manifesto promise to means-test the winter fuel payment for pensioners - which they also dumped after losing their majority.

In 2009 there were 2.56 million households living in fuel poverty. The number then fell but has been steadily increasing since 2013, when the figure was 2.34 million.

Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “During the election campaign Theresa May promised an energy price cap, but now it’s nowhere to be seen.

“Dither and delay from this weak and wobbly government won’t return bill payers the £2bn the Competition Markets Authority says they’re being overcharged.

“Meeting the Conservatives' fuel poverty targets written in their manifesto would require ‘roughly doubling’ the funding provided, as pointed out by the Government’s own Committee on Climate Change.

“Austerity has failed and Theresa May has shown herself to be too weak to deliver. Labour stands ready with a plan to reduce bills and alleviate fuel poverty.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “Britain is facing an energy bill crisis, with over two and half million people who can’t afford their energy bills.  If this is not a scandal I don’t know what is.  

“It is shameful that Theresa May’s government is doing nothing to help those in need and reduce their bills.”

A spokesperson for BEIS said the Government was "committed to tackling fuel poverty" and was helping with £770m in support.  

They added: "The best long-term solution is to improve energy efficiency which is bringing the cost of heating homes down, and that’s exactly what we’re doing through programmes like ECO: Help to Heat, which will upgrade more than 200,000 homes each year.”