1.7m households in fuel poverty miss out on Government help

Almost two million households in severe fuel poverty will miss out on government help in 2023/24 according to new figures. [1]

Data produced by researchers at the University of York for Child Poverty Action Group has calculated that among those groups who will miss out are 688,000 fuel poor households with children. [2]

The figures also show that households in London, the North East and the North West are the most likely to miss out on Government help. Over 1m fuel poor owner-occupied households and over 500,000 struggling homes in the private rented sector will be among those who no longer get Government help.

The UK Government introduced new support packages for vulnerable households from 1 April 2023 to replace the Energy Bills Support Scheme and other programmes which ran over winter 2022/23. The new support includes payments of up to £900 for those households on some benefits, with the first instalments due to be paid this week.

Estimates based on Government data have also shown that over four million Energy Bills Support Scheme monthly payments of £66 or £67 from this winter had still to be made to or redeemed by households for the period October 2022 to February 2023. [3]

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

“Millions of people will be worse off in 2023/24 as energy bills remain high, but support from the Government has fallen in real terms.

“Without further Government support and rapid roll out of energy efficiency programmes, the Dickensian conditions experienced by millions this winter will be replicated again. Until Britain’s broken energy system is reformed, we will continue to see households rely on Government support to help them through the energy bills crisis.”

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, from the University of York’s Social Policy Research Unit, commented:

“This data answers an important question because it is an indication of the limits of using the receipt of social security benefits to mitigate fuel poverty, and suggests who might be the types of household that need to be targeted in other ways, including by some kind of social tariff.”

The main reason behind households being excluded is the link between cost of living payments and mean-tested benefits. 

Alison Garnham, CEO of Child Poverty Action Group, said: 

“The Government’s one-off cost-of-living payment is welcome, but this data shows it doesn’t go far enough. Flat-rate payments leave families with children, who have higher living costs, short-changed. Increasing child benefit, which lost a quarter of its value in the last decade and goes to lower and middle income households, is the first step to making sure struggling families have enough money to heat their homes.”

Tessa Khan, executive director of Uplift which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, added: 

“The Government’s rehashed policies on energy efficiency fall miles short of the national programme of insulation and home upgrades that is needed to solve the fuel poverty crisis in the longer term. Ministers also continue to deny communities access to onshore wind, which is among the cheapest energy sources around and a resource we have in abundance. Instead Ministers are handing billions in subsidies to oil and gas developments that won’t lower bills or boost UK energy security, as most of it is oil for export. 

“It is beyond time that this government delivered real policies that address the big issues affecting people’s lives, not least eye-watering energy bills.”


[1] PDF available to download: https://cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/policypost/Who_are_the_fuel_poor_revised.pdf. The figures are, if anything, an underestimate of the problem as the definition of fuel poverty used for these calculations is one of the most targeted available.  

[2] 69 per cent of the households missing out are from the bottom three income deciles, 39 per cent are families with children, 59 per cent are living in owned/ mortgaged houses, 66 per cent are income poor.

[3] Calculations and data available from: https://www.endfuelpoverty.org.uk/energy-firms-holding-280m-of-taxpayers-cash-meant-for-customers/. Customers affected should contact their energy firm for advice and information on how to claim these payments.

Energy bills crisis to hit households with young children hard

New figures from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition have highlighted the challenge facing young families this winter.

Across England, 22% of households will face fuel poverty this winter, but for those households with young children (0-4 years old), the figure rises to 35%.

More than one million households with babies and infants (42%) will be in fuel poverty from 1 April 2023.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

People are already seeing for themselves the suffering caused by living in fuel poverty and it will just get worse as we get deeper into winter and when the Energy Price Guarantee raises prices again in April 2023.

The figures show that University College London’s Institute of Health Equity predictions of ‘a humanitarian crisis’ for children stuck in cold homes are now a very real possibility with fuel poverty causing a public health crisis.”

A Public Health England report found that cold homes and poor housing conditions have been linked with a range of health problems in children. The British Medical Journal previously warned:

Children growing up in cold, damp, and mouldy homes with inadequate ventilation have higher than average rates of respiratory infections and asthma, chronic ill health, and disability. They are also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and slower physical growth and cognitive development.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of the Asthma and Lung UK charity, told the Independent that respiratory infections could “thrive” in colder temperatures if a growing number of vulnerable people cannot afford enough heating next year:

Children can be particularly at risk because their lungs are less well developed, so if they do pick up an infection then they’re more likely to get seriously ill.

Following the Government’s disappointing response to the energy bills crisis leaving so many households in fuel poverty, the Warm This Winter campaign has called for a national Day of Action on fuel poverty on Saturday 3 December 2022.

Groups and communities will come together and stage Warm This Winter events and actions in villages, towns and cities up and down the country in a display of people power showing support for the solutions to the energy crisis that need to be implemented now.

The Day of Action will bring together people from across the poverty movement, health and disability campaigners, housing activists, environmental campaigners as well as those struggling to pay their energy bills.

In London and Stoke-on-Trent, larger scale events will mark the day focussing on telling the real-life stories of people who are facing fuel poverty this winter.

People can register their event or find an event near them online at https://www.warmthiswinter.org.uk/day-of-action


Methodology and assumptions available online.

Massive increase in children experiencing fuel poverty revealed

An exclusive report in the i Paper has revealed the numbers of children living in fuel poverty.

The report, based on Coalition calculations, shows that 2.2m households with dependent children will be in fuel poverty from 1 April. This is a 74% increase since 2019.

There are 6.6m households with dependent children in England, so this means a third of those households are facing – or already in – fuel poverty. Previous calculations have suggested that roughly a quarter of all households will face fuel poverty, so homes with children are more badly impacted than the national average.
A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:
With millions of families already in fuel poverty and experiencing the toughest winter on record financially, the figures in the i Paper make for grim reading.
That so many parents are having to make the choice between keeping the heating on and feeding their kids is heartbreaking. Living in cold homes is not just bad for your health, but can also impact on mental performance, meaning this fuel poverty crisis could be affecting children’s education and development.
Fuel poverty is a health and social crisis, but can only be solved by financial and technical solutions. We need urgent Government action to help those most in need now alongside consistent investment and support for energy efficiency measures.