What is fuel poverty and who's being hit hardest by soaring energy bills?

Despite the extension of the government’s energy bills support scheme, millions of people will still struggle to pay their energy bills.

We look at the glaring inequalities between those in fuel poverty and those who aren't, and have used our data to show who lives in a typical home with different levels of energy costs.

Five million households will be in fuel poverty in England and Wales, spending over 10% of their income on energy bills. Of these 1 million will spend over 20%, pushing them into extreme fuel poverty.

Households in fuel poverty:

  • Are home to over 2.4 million children
  • Half are home to a disabled person and
  • Around 40% have someone aged over 65.

We're calling on the government to fund a street-by-street insulation programme, to lower people's bills and lower climate emissions from home heating.

A hand holding an energy bill

What would a 40% energy bill leave you with?

160,000 households spend 40% of their disposable income on energy.

Use our calculator to see what you would be left with after spending 40% of your monthly income on your energy bill.

Extreme fuel poverty

These pie charts highlight some of the inequalities between those living in extreme fuel poverty, paying over 20% of their income on energy bills, with those who aren't.

Almost two-thirds of people in extreme fuel poverty don't qualify for means-tested benefit payments, but they're far more likely to be on a pre-payment meter, to be disabled, and to be over 65.

These are the people really struggling with their energy bills whilst the oil and gas companies make record-breaking profits.

What's left after energy bills have been paid?

Our graph shows typical examples of how much of their annual income people have left after paying their energy bills. They highlight the huge disparity between those spending less than 5% of their disposable income on heating their homes, those spending between 10-20%, and those living in extreme fuel poverty.

Click on the sections of the graph to see the average amounts spent and what income they're left with.

A snapshot of those paying the most and least for their bills

The bubbles below are sized to show the number of households spending those amounts of their income on their energy bills. Each bubble contains information about the people living in these homes.

Click on each bubble to see the number of people, number of children, and number of individuals receiving disability benefits, as well as average income and energy bills and households using pre-payment meters.

Households with different levels of energy spending

We've looked at the data for groups of people paying different amounts of their income on energy bills, in particular their age, health, type of home and the amount of insulation they have, their income and the number of adults and children in each household.

Below we describe some of the typical characteristics of a household across each of the levels of energy spending, from those not in fuel poverty spending less than 5% of their income on energy, to those most severely affected spending over 40%.

10 locations with highest levels of fuel poverty

While there are likely to be people spending more than 10% of their incomes on soaring energy bills in every area, we analysed the data to find where there are the highest concentrations of people living in fuel poverty.

These are the 10 locations with the highest levels of fuel poverty across England and Wales, ranked by total number of neighbourhoods experiencing fuel poverty. When we rank them by the proportion of neighbourhoods in each area, the top 10 changes.

As the map below shows, there are neighbourhoods scattered across both countries where people are spending over 10% of their income on energy bills. And there are many other individual households in fuel poverty, even if most of their neighbourhood isn't.

Fuel poverty hotspots map

This map shows the 3,321 neighbourhoods across England and Wales in the bottom 30% of income, and where spend on energy bills is above average.

There are clusters in the Midlands, the North and across South Wales, but hotspots are scattered across both countries.

Our campaign is calling for a new programme to insulate our heat-leaking homes – starting with these most in-need neighbourhoods first.

Insulating our homes is the fastest, fairest and cheapest way to lift people out of fuel poverty

Ask your MP to pledge for warm homes

The energy crisis and how to solve it