Fuel poverty


Last updated 14 May 2019 - see all updates

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1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2016, 11% (2.55 million households) of all households in England were in fuel poverty – to be in fuel poverty, a household must be paying more than average for fuel, and be under the poverty line when fuel costs are taken into account
  • in every year from 2003 to 2016, White households were less likely to be living in fuel poverty than households from all other ethnic groups combined
Things you need to know

The data shown here is based on responses to the English Housing Survey (EHS). The EHS is a ‘sample survey’: it collects information from a random sample of the population to make generalisations (reach 'findings’) about the total population.

Tests for statistical significance have not been carried out on this data.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of households in fuel poverty in England between 2003 and 2016, broken down by ethnicity.

Fuel poverty is measured using the low income high costs (LIHC) indicator. Under the LIHC indicator, the people in a household are considered to be in fuel poverty if both:

  • the cost of fuel needed to keep their home warm, well-lit and with running appliances and hot water for everyday use is greater than the average for households across the country (the national median level)
  • the income they’re left with after paying for that fuel (plus other household costs and expenses) takes them below the poverty line

The poverty line is measured as having 60% or less of the average (median) income of households in England.

The figures are drawn from the English Housing Survey (EHS). The survey involves face-to-face interviews with about 13,300 randomly selected households every year.

These are used to make estimates for the 22.6 million households in England as a whole.

The information relates to households. A household is one person or a group of people (not necessarily related) who have the accommodation as their only or main residence. If they are a group they also must share cooking facilities and a living room, sitting room, or dining area.

Some households contain people from different ethnic backgrounds; in these circumstances, the ethnic background of the household reference person is used to define the ethnic background of the household.

The household reference person is the person in whose name the home is owned or rented or who is otherwise responsible for the accommodation.

For joint owners or joint tenants, the household reference person is whoever has the highest income. If the incomes are equal, it is the oldest person.

Nearly all the household reference persons – more than 99.8% interviewed – provided information on their ethnicity.

The ethnic categories used in this data

Data on fuel poverty is collected as part of the English Housing Survey using the 18-category ethnicity classification from the 2011 Census.

However, for this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific or broad ethnic categories.

Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 2 categories:

  • White – White ethnic groups (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
  • Other – all other ethnic minorities

2. By ethnicity over time

Percentage of households in fuel poverty by ethnicity over time
Time All White Other
% % %
2003 12 11 15
2004 12 11 16
2005 11 11 17
2006 11 10 18
2007 11 11 16
2008 12 11 18
2009 12 11 19
2010 11 11 19
2011 11 10 17
2012 11 10 18
2013 10 10 18
2014 10 10 17
2015 11 10 16
2016 11 10 17

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Fuel poverty By ethnicity over time Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2016, 17% of ethnic minority households were living in fuel poverty, compared with 10% of White households (including White ethnic minorities)
  • these percentages have remained fairly stable between 2003 and 2016

3. Methodology

Fuel poverty statistics use data collected from the English Housing Survey (EHS).

The EHS is a continuous national survey commissioned by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

It collects information about:

  • people’s housing circumstances
  • household income
  • the condition and energy efficiency of housing

The fuel poverty analysis uses a random sample of approximately 12,000 households from the EHS. These households had both a face-to-face interview and a physical survey carried out by a qualified surveyor.


Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population.

For example, a survey which contains 25% females and 75% males will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know is around 50% male and 50% female.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.

In the EHS, weighting makes the results more representative of the 22.6 million households in England.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Estimates based on fewer than 30 households have not been included in these statistics, because small numbers of households mean that any generalisations based on these estimates are very unreliable.

This is standard policy for English Housing Survey data, from which fuel poverty statistics are derived. The analysis has been done using 2 broad ethnic groups, partly to avoid the possibility of individuals being identified.

More detailed data, including some potentially disclosive data, is protected by a range of disclosure controls. See the guidance on English Housing Survey: datasets for information about accessing this data.


Figures are rounded to the nearest percentage.

Related publications

English Housing Survey: guidance and methodology.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources


Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics


Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Publication frequency


Purpose of data source

The main purpose of the Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics data is to:

  • monitor progress against fuel poverty targets
  • track the percentage of households in fuel poverty and their fuel poverty gap

The government’s fuel poverty target for England is to ensure that as many fuel poor households as reasonably practicable achieve a minimum energy efficiency rating of Band C by 2030 (with interim targets of Band E by 2020, and Band D by 2025). Household energy efficiency ratings are banded from G (lowest) to A (highest). Energy efficiency is measured using the Fuel Poverty Energy Efficiency Rating.

5. Download the data

Fuel poverty - Spreadsheet (csv) 5 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, numerator, denominator