Towards a simple definition of energy poverty (UK)

In the UK poverty is defined as having a household income of below 60% of median household income. The median household income in the UK in 2015/16 was £26,400 according to the ONS, so 60% of this is £15,840. People/households who earn below this in 2017 (often rounded to £16,000 by councils) can for example request reduced council tax payments of around 35% and can also reasonably negotiate reduced bill payments with service providers by providing an income and expenditure form.

For energy poverty we no longer have a clear simple definition. The government came up with complex formulas based on median energy usage for types of properties and median income after housing costs. The reason for this can only be to hide the scale of it. Who is surveyed and how many also dictates the values you use to calculate these costs. I think the government should at least use actual data from HMRC, council tax bands and energy companies if this calculation is to be believable.

Looking at the government data 2015 on household gas usage by postcode I estimated the median gas usage per household was about 12,000 kWh. The government stated median is 11,707 kWh in 2015. Using the same logic as for financial poverty households/people who use below 60% of this, i.e. lower than 7024 kWh, could be considered to be in energy poverty. The government median is calculated by excluding values below 500 and those above 25,000.

By my calculations — based on my 60% of median households gas usage threshold — approximately 2,500,000 UK households would be below this — in energy poverty.

First I tried to use Google maps to visualise this - see a part of Northamptonshire, England with prefix NN. https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1CWB-0x8PiEfjFVBIuzCVfjHg6Cs&ll=52.23888280758006%2C-0.9017898361236121&z=16

but it does not allow ranges to be defined and data is missing.

Whereas fusion tables are accurate: https://fusiontables.google.com/DataSource?docid=1ntl4AgXWho1bU34Stm22oCXDurvVYdOJgyO_Jl-Y#map:id=4

just a bit slow to load data..

Note: Electricity poverty may appear to be slightly less than gas poverty — but this may be because people prioritise buying electricity over gas. They keep the lights on and cook rather than stay warm. Alternatively they may be households burning wood or coal to keep warm.

I propose that government statistics for energy poverty and financial poverty should be based on actual government data — not surveys. I used actual data from the gov.uk website.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated binReminded’s story.