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Measuring and monitoring fuel poverty in the UK: National and regional perspectives


Throughout the industrialised world, fuel poverty is the most commonly accepted term with which to describe a household's inability to afford basic standards of heat, power and light. Whilst the term gained widespread acceptance with the publication of the UK's Fuel Poverty Strategy in 2001, little is known about the origins of the term itself. This paper traces the earliest formulations of the concept, focusing particularly on the 10% needs to spend threshold which was adopted in 1991 and remains in place some 20 years later. This paper argues that understanding more about the origins of this threshold yields a more critical understanding of why fuel poverty targets in the UK have not been reached, and enables a more informed approach to setting realistic targets for the future. It also provides an opportunity to explore regional disparities in UK fuel poverty prevalence, highlighting the extent to which rigid adherence to a 10% threshold has created an unstable regional mosaic of over-estimation and under-estimation.