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Fuel Poverty

A household is classed as being in fuel poverty if:

1. The household’s fuel poverty energy efficiency rating is Band D or below 


2. Their disposable income (after housing and fuel costs) is below the poverty line.

This is a pressing issue, given the effect that cold indoor temperatures can have on the health of people of all ages.

An estimated 13% of households (3.17 million) were living in fuel poverty in England in 2023 [1], according to the Government’s annual fuel poverty statistics (last released in February 2024).

Fuel poverty and health inequality

Low income is a key factor in determining fuel poverty, which contributes to already-existing health inequalities.

Certain demographics are more likely to experience fuel poverty [2]. These include:

  • Households with children – especially single parent households
  • Younger households, where the eldest member is aged 16-24
  • Elderly people without children
  • People living with disabilities
  • Ethnic minority households

Many of these groups, including children, young people and people with pre-existing conditions or disabilities, are also at a higher risk of developing health problems linked to living in cold or damp housing conditions.

Health risks of living in a cold house

The health consequences of living in a cold home are serious. In 2019, the UK Government estimated that the NHS spends at least £1.4 billion a year on treating illnesses that are directly linked to cold homes.[3]

Among other pressing issues, low temperatures increase the risk of:

  • Strokes or heart attacks, due to raised blood pressure
  • Respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, bronchiolitis and COPD
  • Falls or other injuries, due to people's reduced strength and dexterity
  • Poor mental health, including depression, anxiety and stress

Alongside the direct effects, other environmental factors of cold indoor temperatures, such as damp and mould, can also cause and aggravate longer-term conditions, such as:

  1. Asthma
  2. Chronic pain
  3. Patients with long-term conditions, particularly those with respiratory or cardiovascular disease, are much more likely to experience exacerbations in their condition.

In some instances, fuel poverty health problems can become deadly. The leading causes of excess winter deaths in England are respiratory diseases, circulatory and cardiovascular diseases, and dementia [4] – all of which are made worse by living in a cold house.

Graphnet's Fuel Poverty Dashboard

Our fuel poverty dashboard has been developed and implemented at Cheshire & Merseyside ICB using population health data to identify those who are most vulnerable and in need of immediate intervention. The dashboard takes existing population health data of those with specific needs (including COPD) who fall into a variety of categories specified by Cheshire & Merseyside, which in turn highlights priority cases. Following this, multi agency teams proactively contact high priority cases to offer support, this can be in the form of a referral to their GP, the local Wellbeing Service or Affordable Warmth Unit. Individuals were also connected with Energy Plus Projects, a charity that helps citizens in need achieve lower energy tariffs and warmer homes.

To read more about how Cheshire & Merseyside ICB has used Graphnet's Fuel Poverty Dashboard, download our case study, or further reading is in the news section.