Scottish House Condition Survey: Key Findings 2010

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4 Fuel Poverty

74. The term 'Fuel Poverty' refers to the situation where a household cannot afford to heat their home to an adequate level. The Scottish Government uses the following definition of fuel poverty as set out in the Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement ( FPS) 13 published in 2002:

"A household is in fuel poverty if it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income (including Housing Benefit or Income Support for Mortgage Interest) on all household fuel use."

The Scottish Government have pledged to ensure that by November 2016, so far as is reasonably practicable, people are not living in fuel poverty in Scotland.

75. Furthermore 'Extreme Fuel Poverty' is defined as a household having to spend more than 20% of its income on fuel.

76. The concept of fuel poverty is based on a theoretical calculation of how much it would cost to heat a dwelling according to a specified regime. For a more detailed description of the definition of fuel poverty and analysis of previous years' SHCS fuel poverty statistics see the Fuel Poverty Statement, the SHCS 2002 Fuel Poverty in Scotland Report 14 and the SHCS Fuel Poverty Report 2003/4 15 . A technical note on the calculation of Fuel Poverty figures using SHCS data can be found on the SHCS website 16 .

77. In each of the seven continuous survey years there were a number of cases where it was not possible to determine fuel poverty status. These have been apportioned on a pro-rata basis between the two categories (or three categories in the case of extreme fuel poverty) as was discussed in the 2004/5 SHCS Key Findings Report 17 . 88 'missing' cases were reapportioned in 2010. Households with negative annual household income after council tax deduction are removed from the fuel poverty calculations but reapportioned in this way.

78. Figure 10 and Table 24 show that from 1996 to 2002 the number of fuel poor households in Scotland fell from around 36% to 13% 18 . In 2003/4, 15% of households (350,000) were assessed as fuel poor, and, in 2004/5, 18% of households (419,000) were estimated to be in fuel poverty. This figure increased in 2005/6, 2007, 2008 and again in 2009 reaching 33% (766,000). In 2010 this figure dropped back to 28%, amounting to 658,000 fuel poor households.

79. Extreme fuel poverty in 2010 remains higher than 2002 levels, but dropped back down from the 2009 peak. In 2002, 3% of households (71,000) were living in extreme fuel poverty, rising to 10% of households (240,000) in 2009. This has since returned to close to the average for the preceding three years (see Figure 10) of 7.8% (185,000 households).

Figure 10 Households in Fuel Poverty 1996-2010 (% and CI)

Figure 10 Households in Fuel Poverty 1996-2010 (% and CI)

Table 24 Fuel Poverty and Extreme Fuel Poverty 1996-2010 (000s, % and CIs)

000's%% Confidence Intervals
Lower CIUpper CI
Fuel poverty
199675635.634.736.5
200229313.412.714.0
2003/435015.413.916.9
2004/541918.216.619.8
2005/654323.521.825.2
200758625.323.627.1
200861826.524.828.3
200977032.730.934.4
201065827.926.229.6
Extreme fuel poverty
19961828.68.19.1
2002713.22.93.5
2003/41124.94.05.8
2004/51195.24.36.1
2005/61737.56.48.5
20071727.46.38.5
20081827.86.78.9
200924310.39.011.6
20101857.86.88.9

80. The 3 main factors in fuel poverty are incomes, energy efficiency and fuel costs 19 . Change in any of these drivers will usually influence fuel poverty figures.

81. The survey found that average household incomes remained static between July 2009 and July 2010.

82. Because of the small sample sizes in surveys after 2004, the precision of any estimates of the effect of improved energy efficiency measures will be poor, as will estimates of the offset of those improvements against the impact of fuel price increases. However there was an improvement in energy efficiency measured by NHER over the year with the proportion of dwellings in the good NHER category rising from 55% to 62%.

83. Fuel price changes have been shown to be an important factor in both the reduction in numbers of households in fuel poverty between 1996 and 2002 and in the subsequent increase to 2009. They also play a role in the reduction to June 2010.

84. Table 25 and Figure 11 show the change in the 3 main fuel prices between May 1996 and March 2011 against changes in fuel poverty up to July 2010. The table includes an average fuel price figure weighted by the proportion of households using each of those fuels for their home heating. It shows that on average between 2002 and 2009 fuel prices and fuel poverty rose. In 2010 fuel prices for all fuels except heating oils, dipped slightly which is reflected in a fall in fuel poverty for 2010.

Table 25 Retail Price Index fuel components 20 , May 1996 to March 2011

YearFuel price index numbers relative to the GDP deflator
Fuel poverty (%)GasElectricityHeating oilsWeighted Average increase
199635.697.0119.461.695.4
200213.486.091.167.183.3
200415.488.491.979.485.9
200518.297.398.491.094.4
200623.5126.5117.7115.1121.1
200725.3129.1121.8106.9123.3
200826.5141.6133.3185.8139.0
200932.7171.9139.8105.9159.0
201027.9157.5135.8135.9148.9
2011162.6137.5176.3155.4

Figure 11 Fuel Poverty by Retail Price Index fuel components

Figure 11 Fuel Poverty by Retail Price Index fuel components

85. From Table 26, we can see that people living in terraced houses or tenement flats are least likely to, and those living in detached houses most likely to, experience fuel poverty. 34% of households (173,000) in detached houses are fuel poor compared with 25% of terraced households (124,000) and 25% of tenement dwellings (134,000).

Table 26 Fuel Poverty by dwelling characteristics (000s)

Not Fuel PoorFuel PoorExtreme Fuel PoorTotalUnweighted
sample size
Type of Dwelling
Detached33017369503757
Semi detached35813634494699
Terraced37312422497664
Tenement40313436537515
Other flats2369124327392
Age of Dwelling
Pre-191929416267455531
1919-19442128625298387
1945-196438017441554738
1965-198238715135539723
Post-19824258618511648
Extent of Central Heating
Full1,6206161642,2362,867
Partial48271275112
No central heating311594648
Primary Heating Fuel
Gas1,3784541171,8332,209
Oil736025133248
Electric20612035327470
Other fuel type402476498
NHER Band
Poor28392166109
Moderate5023291048311,207
Good1,150284581,4331,711
Urban/rural
Urban1,4505031281,9532,330
Rural24915557404697
Mains Gas Grid
On gas grid1,5895701512,1592,576
Not on gas grid1108834198451
All Scotland1,6996581852,3573,027
Unweighted sample size2,1488792523,027

86. Households living in older dwellings are also more likely to experience fuel poverty with around a third of households (162,000) living in dwellings built before 1919 being fuel poor compared to 17% (86,000) of those living in dwellings built after 1982 (Table 25 and Table 27). This is at least in part related to the greater energy efficiency of dwellings built after 1982 as discussed in paragraph 48.

87. Households in dwellings with lower energy efficiency are more likely to be fuel poor. 58% of people living in dwellings rated 'poor' are living in fuel poverty compared with 40% of those in dwellings rated 'moderate' and 20% of those rated 'good'. Furthermore, 31% of those households with a 'poor' NHER score are living in extreme fuel poverty whereas only 4% of those with a 'good' rating, are in extreme fuel poverty (Table 28 and Figure 12).

Figure 12 Households in fuel poverty by tenure, NHER band, household type, household income and urban/rural (%)

Figure 12 Households in fuel poverty by tenure, NHER band, household type, household income and urban/rural (%)

88. 33% of households without central heating and 36% of households with partial central heating are fuel poor compared to 28% of those with full central heating. Households without central heating are almost three times as likely to be in extreme fuel poverty than those with full central heating (Table 28).

89. Households that use electricity, oil or other fuel types (such as coal or peat) are more likely than those who use gas to experience fuel poverty. Oil or solid fuel users are more than twice as likely as gas users to be in extreme fuel poverty. (Table 26 and 28).

90. Furthermore, households living in dwellings not on the gas grid are twice as likely to be in extreme fuel poverty as those who are on the gas grid. Around 45% of those households in dwellings not on the gas grid are fuel poor (88,000) compared with 26% (570,000) of those who are (Table 26 and Table 28).

91. Rural households are more susceptible to fuel poverty than urban households. 38% of those in rural areas suffer fuel poverty compared with around 26% of urban households. Extreme fuel poverty is twice as prevalent in rural areas: 14% of rural households, compared to only 7% of urban households, are in extreme fuel poverty (Table 28 and Figure 12).

92. Moving on from dwelling characteristics to household characteristics, the elderly are most at risk from fuel poverty: 55% of single pensioner households (196,000) and 40% of older smaller households 21 (161,000) were fuel poor. 23% of single pensioner households and 18% of older smaller households experienced extreme fuel poverty. Of households with children, single parent families are most at risk: 31% live in fuel poverty (Table 28, Table 29 and Figure 12).

93. Local Authority tenants are the most likely to experience fuel poverty, followed by Housing Associations. Extreme fuel poverty, however, is most prevalent in the private sector, where it is nearly three times as likely as in a housing association (Table 29).

94. Fuel poverty is, of course, highly correlated with income. The likelihood of experiencing fuel poverty increases as household income decreases. Almost all of those in the lowest income band (less than £100 per week) are fuel poor (98%). 92% of households (68,000) in this income band experience extreme fuel poverty. (Table 27, Table 29 and Figure 12).

95. Council tax band is a poor predictor of fuel poverty (Table 27 and Table 29).

Table 27 Fuel Poverty by household characteristics (000s)

Not Fuel PoorFuel PoorExtreme Fuel PoorTotalUnweighted
sample size
Tenure
Owner-occupier1,0703951311,4651,945
LA/other public25511924374474
HA/co-op198799276331
Private-rented1776621242277
Private Sector1,2474601521,7072,222
Social Sector45319833650805
Household Type
Single adult23412736361441
Small adult3666514431527
Single parent70314101124
Small family287205306425
Large family154113165215
Large adult1944812242303
Older smaller23716146398526
Single pensioner15719665353466
Weekly Income Band
< £100 p.w.272687475
£100 -199.99 p.w.6130599366462
£200 -299.99 p.w.30318822491636
£300 -399.99 p.w.337583395503
£400 -499.99 p.w.232171249341
£500 -699.99 p.w.326120338462
£700+4107-417548
Council Tax Band
A34517037514660
B44014630586739
C2599323352465
D2086825276365
E21810037318400
F1364113177223
G772816105129
H541911
Unobtainable1232204335
All Scotland1,6996581852,3573,027
Unweighted sample size2,1488792523,027

Table 28 Fuel poverty by dwellings characteristics (Row %)

Not Fuel PoorFuel PoorExtreme Fuel PoorTotalUnweighted
sample size
Type of Dwelling
Detached663414100757
Semi detached72287100699
Terraced75254100664
Tenement75257100515
Other flats72287100392
Age of Dwelling
Pre-1919653515100531
1919-194471298100387
1945-196469317100738
1965-198272286100723
Post-198283173100648
Extent of Central Heating
Full722871002,867
Partial643616100112
No central heating67332010048
Primary Heating Fuel100
Gas752561002,209
Oil554519100248
Electric633711100470
Other fuel type62381210098
NHER Band
Poor425831100109
Moderate6040121001,207
Good802041001,711
Urban/rural
Urban742671002,330
Rural623814100697
Mains Gas Grid
On gas grid742671002,576
Not on gas grid554517100451
All Scotland722881003,027
Unweighted sample size2,1488792523,027

Table 29 Fuel Poverty by household characteristics (Row %)

Not Fuel PoorFuel PoorExtreme Fuel PoorTotalUnweighted
sample size
Tenure
Owner-occupier732791002,080
LA/other public68326100515
HA/co-op71293100383
Private-rented73279100313
Private Sector732791002,393
Social Sector70305100898
Household Type
Single adult653510100454
Small adult85153100562
Single parent69314100170
Small family9462100469
Large family9372100209
Large adult80205100302
Older smaller604012100576
Single pensioner455518100549
Weekly Income Band
< £100 p.w.29892100106
£100 -199.99 p.w.178327100581
£200 -299.99 p.w.62384100664
£300 -399.99 p.w.85151100491
£400 -499.99 p.w.9371100337
£500 -699.99 p.w.9640100551
£700+9820100561
Council Tax Band
A67337100715
B75255100814
C74266100510
D75259100414
E693112100430
F77237100219
G732715100138
H5644610013
Unobtainable27734710038
All Scotland722881003,027
Unweighted sample size2,1488792523,027