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Thousands of people across the UK are financially struggling with the current costs of living crisis. Many of those have to choose between eating and heating and that’s deeply upsetting. “Fuel Poverty” what does it mean? The definition is different for many people. However there are specific measures for what constitutes Fuel poverty. Even if the causes and issues around it are strongly debated.
Below were talking more in depth look at this huge issue and hopefully provide useful information and making clear the help that’s available if you find yourself or others becoming affected.
Here are the following points we will be explaining:
The general publics impression if that fuel poverty is not being financially stable enough to keep your home warm. Although that definition is not completely wrong, the actual definition of fuel poverty relates to households that must spend a high amount of their household income to keep their home at a comfortable temperature.
This explanation is not to be confused with the ‘fuel poverty gap’ which is the reduction in fuel bills needed to take a fuel-poor household out of fuel poverty. In other words, the cut in energy costs that would lift them out of fuel poverty. According to UK Government figures, in 2018 the mean average fuel poverty gap was £334, an increase on 2017’s average of £328.
The 3 key factors that contribute to fuel poverty are the energy efficiency of a home, the cost of energy bills (fuel prices), and household income.
The last thing you need right now is to be wasting energy, and if your home is not energy efficient this will result in you spending more to keep your home warm and comfortable.
If you have a non condensing boiler that has a efficiency of 85%. That means for every £1 you spend you’re wasting 15p. Although, that may not seem like a lot but put it this way. With every £100 you spend £15 is then getting wasted. So it all adds up and all lost simply due to your boiler operating at low efficiency. A poorly insulated home will be affected due to your boiler having to work harder to heat your home and keep it at a comfortable temperature.
These are playing a major role in fuel poverty in the current climate.
Due to a recovery in global demand and as the world recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, economies re open and supplies get tighter. Resulting in gas prices reaching a record high in Europe. This has resulted in the cost of heating homes and electricity prices increasing dramatically. With the on going events in Ukraine and Russia, its increasing the cost of gas in particular.
Even with Ofgem introducing the energy price cap, households in the UK saw an increase in energy bills last year. This will sure lead to one of the most expensive winter energy bills in the last 10 years and is estimated to sent half a million brits into fuel poverty.
Many things affect household income. For example: someone’s earnings, benefits, and housing costs. Generally lower income households will be effected due to spending more of their budget on fuel. As a result of that the left over income is low enough to rank the household below the poverty line. Low household income is classed as low-income if their equivalised income (less tax and national insurance), once they’ve paid their housing and fuel costs is less than £13,925.
The UK Government’s energy price cap is due to be revised by Ofgem in February, with the increase put onto customers’ bills from April. Energy prices are set to rise further adding hundreds onto bills. It all comes down to the energy price cap, originally invented to help and protect households.
According to the Governments report, 10.3% of households in England were in fuel poverty in 2018. At the same time 25% households in Scotland, 18% in Northern Ireland, and 12% in wales are classed as fuel poor.
Young families and the elderly are most likely to be hard hit by fuel poverty.
Public Health England identified the following groups who are most vulnerable to health problems caused by cold homes and/or who may have less contact with health services.
This winter some may have to make the difficult decision between choosing to keep food on the table or heating their homes. With the cost of living at its highest level in a decade, this is the harsh reality for families with low income.
Who can claim winter fuel payments?
Winter fuel payments are available to senior citizens who were born before the 26th of September 1995 .
How much are the payments?
The payments range between £100-£300 to help pay heating bills.
Claiming winter fuel payments
Senior citizens will get the payments automatically, meaning they don’t need to claim if they’re eligible and either
If they don’t get either of these or live abroad, they’ll need to make a claim.
Who can claim the cold weather payment?
You can get the cold weather payment if you claim certain benefits or support mortgage interest.
How much is the payments?
The cold weather payment is £25 for every 7 day period of very cold weather between the 1st of November and the 31st of march. After each period of very cold weather in your area you’ll get a a payment within 14 days.
How to claim
You don’t need to apply, if you’re eligible you’ll get it automatically.
There’s 2 ways to qualify.
How you apply depends on how you qualify.
How much is the payment?
With the warm home discount scheme, you could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021-2022.
The money is not paid to you. Its a one off discount between october and march. You might be able to get a discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both electricity and gas.
On the 3rd of February 2022, the government announced plans to ease their cost of living pressures after a record 54% rise to the energy price cap. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that there will be a £200 discount on all electricity bills from October 2022. (this will later be repaid) And £150 council tax rebate for those in bands A to D.