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Rising electricity prices are forcing Britain’s poorest to underheat their homes

Press Release, Global Warming Policy Forum

The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) warns that rising electricity prices, caused in large part by UK energy and climate policies, are forcing the country’s poorest households to cut back on heating.

According to the fuel poverty report recently released by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), nearly 70% of UK households are heating their houses less than is required to meet the levels thought necessary to deliver comfort and health.

Those on lower incomes are “under-consuming” by a larger margin than those on higher incomes, with only the top richest decile consuming more than the estimated requirement. 

The poorest households were under-consuming by the largest margin, and it is in this category that those most vulnerable to policy costs, the 2.2 million UK households using electric heating, are concentrated, particularly in rented accommodation.

Estimated UK household underspend on energy by income decile. Source: BEIS, “Comparison of Theoretical Energy Consumption with Actual Usage”, Energy Trends (March 2019), 72.

The findings call into question the Chancellor’s recently announced decision to begin phasing out gas fired central heating in the UK from 2025.

Dr John Constable, the GWPF’s energy editor, said:

“We have long known that energy and climate policies were regressive and damaging to the poor. Government’s own data is now illustrating the facts, showing that those on the lowest incomes, who often have no alternatives to electric heating, simply cannot afford to keep warm. That is deeply unjust, and government should take corrective steps immediately, as well as reconsidering its long term policy to force the whole country towards electric heating.”

Further information:

Dr John Constable: Fuel poverty and electricity policy costs