Hills Fuel Poverty Review

Professor John Hills is possibly the leading contemporary academic expert on poverty and inequality in Britain today.   He follows in the distinguished footsteps of Tawney, Titmus and Peter Thompson.   He accepted the challenge to lead the independent review into fuel poverty because, as he modestly says,

Julio Martinez

he was intrigued by the subject and wanted to understand it better.

The first part of his brief was “to consider fuel poverty from first principles:  to determine the nature of the issues at its core, including the extent to which fuel poverty is distinct from poverty, and the detriment it causes”.   Long term fuel poverty campaigners were fearful that by making this the question, Government ministers wanted to find an excuse to airbrush fuel poverty off the agenda and get off the hook of confronting the rapidly escalating numbers of households dropping into fuel poverty over the last five or six years.   Their fears are confounded in Hills’ Foreword to his report:  “That fuel poverty remains a serious problem is clear from the evidence we review”, he states.  

His report goes on to observe that households in or on the margins of poverty face costs stacking up an aggregate to £1.1bn more than typical households to keep warm, that those on low incomes cannot afford the investment to make their houses energy efficient – which is a key issue in the climate change and carbon reduction agenda, and crucially that living in cold homes has a series of effects on illness and mental health.   That last is the lead item on his chapter on the Impacts of Fuel Poverty.

For the rest of this typically thorough and comprehensive review (over 150 pages), the Hills team have looked at different ways of defining fuel poverty.   The current definition, which John Hills accepts, is based on the 2000 Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act, which states that “a person is to be regarded as living in fuel poverty if he is a member of a household living on a lower income in a home which cannot be kept warm at a reasonable cost”.   But if the devil is in the detail, this leads to further issues about defining low income, adequate warmth, and reasonable cost, and most of this Interim Report is probing around this area.  

 Hills props up several different methodologies to measure fuel poverty, all of which come up with big numbers, and some are higher and some lower than the current statistical measurements indicate.

 Hills will produce his final report in January, when he will put some recommendations forward, as well as analysing the impact of various policy prescriptions for the growing number of households in fuel poverty.  

 Read the full report

 Find out about our Spread the Warmth campaign

4 responses to “Hills Fuel Poverty Review

  1. no one can understand fuel poverty ,unless they have lived in it.fuel poverty is when you wake up to find you have no gas ,no money and 2 days till payday,there are 3 of you living in afreezing cold house,i adult a 3month old baby and a toddler,you have to feed cold food to your children and wrap them up in coats gloves and scarves,indoors or trail them round the shops all day to keep warm ,librarys are good,hospitals are better,as you can wander round all day and no one questions you.but the gut wrenching despair,when it starts to get dark,and you know there are 14 hours left to try to keep warm at home,yes you have hot water bottles,and an electric kettle,so early nights and hot drinks it is ,the day comes and you do it all again,one more sleep you tell the kids and we will be warm ish untill 5 days later when even though you have put 15 pounds in the meter ,its all gone again,and the electric is low too ,because no else will tell you that it costs more electric too,because of the pump that circulates the water .im the expert on poverty any one can read a book and study statistics,but live it week in week out,for years ,and you become a mind controlled automatom,there are isles you dont go down,in a supermarket,you no longer look at the meat,you dont look at whats on in the pictures,theatre,pantomime,ice show,and you cant afford a tv licence,you cant have fish and chips ,a holiday a day trip,a car warm clothes duvets ,carpets ,even the charity shops are to dear ,xmas is just a dream ,yes a few plastic toys a cheap chicken and then ,no heating again ,all we do is feed ourselves with cheap crap food,to keep us alive,to spend another day in poverty ,so we get filled up with tranx and anti depressants,that probably cost more than it would to heat my house for a week ,i rest my case.

    • jenny I would like to learn more about real fuel poverty cases like yours so a better campaign/support can be sought through – anyone in this sort of situation please get in touch with james – james at scotch dot co dot uk – so we can escalate this type of situation in a way that gets results quickly

  2. I think that fuel poverty is an absolute disgrace and we as a population are being held to randsom by greedy power companies, but why are we being held to randsome you have to ask yourself this, my answer is that we allow ourselves to be, for hundreds of thousands of years man has been able to create fire to keep itself warm and cook its food only now in this modern age have we given up our right to make fire to keep warm in the name of preventing global warming well try telling the 80 year old war veteran sat at home shivering this winter that they are freezing to death for the greater good, i say to all those who are going to suffer this winter due to the greed and deriliction of duty by polititions and businesmen un brick your open fires and burn whatever you can to stay warm because if it is a matter of survival dont rely on the goverment because they will simply allow you to die when the cities are sheathed in smog and the goverment fail to make thier targets for green efficiency then maybe just maybe they will do somthing but dont kid yourself a few thousand frozen pensioners just means a few thousand less pensions to pay. Look after yourselves because nobody else will……..

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