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UK government defines new way to measure 'fuel poverty'

London to review definition following LSE report findings that 'fuel poverty is a serious national problem and only likely to get worse'

News agencies
Published: 11.09.12, 06:46 / Israel Environment

The British government is currently pondering adopting a new way of measuring fuel poverty in the United Kingdom, a statement by the UK's Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) said.

 

The ESMAP is a global, multi-donor technical assistance trust fund administered by the World Bank.

 

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The organization said that London began reviewing its definition of "fuel poverty" following an independent review by the London School of Economics, which concluded that "Fuel poverty is a serious national problem and only likely to get worse."

 

The current definition of fuel poverty in Britain "is not particularly helpful and a better definition would enable help to be better targeted at the most in need," the report said.

 

According to the ESMAP, London currently defines fuel poverty as "Households that spend more than 10% of their income on energy costs."

 

The British Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) aspires to adopt a new definition, which includes two indicators: How many individuals are affected by fuel poverty and how badly they are affected.

 

According to the LSE report, the new definition would put nearly 8 million people into the bracket of fuel poverty in 2.7 million households across the UK.

 

“With the number of people living in fuel poverty projected to rise, the time has come to go back to basics to ensure we are doing all we can,” UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said.

 

"This means defining and measuring fuel poverty in the right way and working up a new fuel poverty strategy so that we can target our available resources where they are needed most."

 

'Definition flawed'

However, Britain's green groups have already criticized the DECC’s new formula as "flawed."

 

The National Energy Action (NEA) which is “disappointed” about DECC’s plans to redefine fuel poverty in the UK.

 

Ron Campbell, Chief Policy Analyst at NEA said the new measures would not improve the situation: "NEA is disappointed that after a protracted pre-consultation debate the Government has not listened to the unanimous voice of fuel poverty campaigners all of whom argued that the proposed new definition was flawed.

 

"The Government’s proposals mean that the number of fuel-poor households in England will reduce significantly without any actual improvement in their circumstances; in reality they will still lack access to affordable warmth."

 

The Friends of the Earth expressed similar concerns. "With one in five households unable to afford their energy bills, the Government’s priority should be urgent action to insulate homes and make them cheaper to heat, rather than re-defining the problem," said group official Dave Timms.

 

“The new definition of fuel poverty has a number of pros and cons and these must be carefully considered before it is introduced. Whatever the measurement, the Government must have a legal duty to rapidly end the scandal of vulnerable people shivering in cold and draughty homes that make them ill, cost a fortune to heat and contribute to climate change."

 

The new definition aims to see the number of people in fuel poverty is expected to reduce to 2.9 million by 2016.

 

 

 

 

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