Fuel poverty

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2017, 10.9% of all households in England (2.53 million households) were in fuel poverty
  • in every year from 2003 to 2017, households in the White ethnic group were less likely to be in fuel poverty than those from the Other ethnic group (made up of all other ethnic groups combined)
  • the percentage of ethnic minority households in fuel poverty varied between 14.5% (in 2003) and 20.0% (in 2017)
Things you need to know

The data shown here is based on responses to the English Housing Survey (EHS). The EHS collects information from a random sample of the population to make generalisations about the whole population.

This data has not been tested for statistical significance.

In 2017, the average (median) income for ethnic minority households was lower than the income for White households. This might partly explain their higher likelihood of being in fuel poverty.

However, ethnic minority households tend to live in more energy efficiency properties (like social housing), which may partly explain their lower average fuel poverty gap.

Households’ fuel costs and income have been adjusted to take into account differences in household size and composition (known as 'equivalisation').

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of households in fuel poverty in England between 2003 and 2017, broken down by ethnicity.

Fuel poverty statistics cover both:

  • the likelihood of fuel poverty (the percentage of households in fuel poverty)
  • the depth of fuel poverty (fuel poverty gap), which shows the reduction in fuel bills that the average fuel poor household needs in order not to be classed as fuel poor – you can see data on the fuel poverty gap broken down by ethnicity

Fuel poverty in England is measured using the low income high costs (LIHC) indicator. A household is classed as being in fuel poverty if both:

  • their fuel costs are above average and
  • their disposable income (after housing and fuel costs) is below the poverty line

In this data, a household is below the poverty line if it has less than 60% of the average (median) disposable income of all households in England.

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.

The ethnic categories used in this data

Data on fuel poverty is collected as part of the English Housing Survey using 18 ethnic groups used in the 2011 Census.

However, for this data, the number of people surveyed was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic groups.

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 White Other than White
% %
2003 11.5 14.5
2004 11.3 15.5
2005 10.8 17.0
2006 10.1 17.6
2007 10.6 16.3
2008 11.0 18.2
2009 11.1 19.3
2010 10.6 18.6
2011 10.4 17.1
2012 9.9 17.7
2013 9.6 18.1
2014 9.8 16.8
2015 10.4 15.6
2016 10.3 17.1
2017 9.7 20.0

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 2017, 9.7% of households in the White ethnic group (including White ethnic minorities) were in fuel poverty, compared with 20.0% of households from all other ethnic groups combined
  • between 2003 and 2017, the percentage of ethnic minority households in fuel poverty varied between 14.5% and 20.0%
  • for White households it has stayed fairly stable, at between 11.5% and 9.6%

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

Each year, approximately 12,000 households take part in the interview. Around half of these properties are selected for the follow-up physical survey (key to fuel poverty energy modelling), involving a physical inspection of the property by professional surveyors.

Two years’ worth of EHS data from households selected for both the interview and physical surveys are combined to ensure an adequate sample size for fuel poverty modelling. For the 2017 data, this covers the period between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2018, and comprises 11,963 households over two consecutive data collection years (2016/17 and 2017/18).

Therefore, users are advised to use caution when looking at year on year changes in fuel poverty, as the samples will not be independent.

Households’ fuel costs and income have been adjusted to take into account differences in household size and composition (known as 'equivalisation').

See the fuel poverty statistics methodology handbook (PDF) to read how equivalisation has been applied to:

  • fuel costs (section 5)
  • income (section 3)

Weighting:

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 23.2 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.

Rounding

Figures are rounded to the nearest percentage.

Related publications

Annual fuel poverty statistics report: 2019 (2017 data)

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Publication frequency

Yearly

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) 2 KB

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