With winter just around the corner it is worth taking a look at the fuel poverty of the UK which lead to the deaths of 34000 people last winter. Fuel poverty, for our purposes, is defined as having to spend 10% or above of your income on fuel. Overall there are 4.5 million UK households in fuel poverty and this is projected to rise. Fuel poverty results in, what are quaintly known as, “excess deaths”. These are deaths which are above the seasonal norm which can be attributed to people freezing to death. The total number of excess deaths is illustrated in the following chart:
It can be seen from the above chart that the number of deaths are not necessarily related to the average temperature, so they are probably more related to the financial conditions of the country at the time.
The last year that full figures for fuel poverty are available for is 2012 and the figures are given in the following table:
The figure show that 14% of households in England are suffering fuel poverty, with the bulk of those in the North. However in Scotland more than a quarter of households are in fuel poverty. Wales is even worse and in NI the figures for 2011 show that a whopping 42% of households are suffering. The table clearly shows how the UK is better together.
So who are these unfortunate souls who very often are faced with the choice of heat or eat? According to www.poverty.org.uk, it turns out that that single person households are more likely to face fuel poverty and also rural households are more likely to face fuel poverty. Those in rented accommodation are also more likely to be in fuel poverty.
The main reason for people facing fuel poverty is the inexorable rise in the cost of fuel. This is illustrated with the following graph from the DECC:
Couple this with the squeeze on disposable incomes and you have a real problem:
So how do people cope with fuel poverty? One way is to have pre-payment meters installed, even though the fuel will cost more by having one. The following table illustrates this point:
All of this results in people ending up in debt to the energy companies, the levels of debt are increasing as the following graph shows:
Of course the energy companies have done their bit to help alleviate the predicament of the fuel poor haven’t they? Well not exactly. The oft quoted “rise in the wholesale costs” which have caused them to increase their retail prices must have stayed high because the costs haven’t come down, right? Well no:
All this means that the energy companies have been raking in some fat profits, as illustrated by this chart:
Which goes to show that our energy cartel is working very well, for themselves.