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Fuel poverty

Whether a household is in fuel poverty is determined by the interplay of three key factors:

  1. the energy efficiency of the property
  2. the household income
  3. fuel/energy prices

National analysis of fuel poverty data indicates that households in fuel poverty are more likely to occupy large, older houses, and be owner-occupiers and families.[1]

In 2016, there were an estimated 81,800 households in Herefordshire, 13.5% of which were in fuel poverty (11,000); a higher proportion than in England as a whole (11.1%). The majority of households affected by fuel poverty live in rural areas. 

In 2019, a report by BRE on behalf of Herefordshire council found that higher concentrations of private sector households in fuel poverty are found in the more rural parts of Herefordshire. There are noticeably lower concentrations around urban areas, particularly around the outskirts of Hereford.  The highest concentrations of fuel poverty (Low Income High Costs definition) in private housing stock are found in the wards of Birch, Old Gore and Golden Valley South.[2]

Figure 1: Thematic map showing the proportions of households in private housing experiencing fuel poverty (low income - high cost definition) across Herefordshire

Heat map showing the density of households in private housing stock xperiencing fuel poverty (Low income - high cost definition) in Herefordshire.

Being off the mains gas grid significantly increases the risk of a household being in fuel poverty, as the fuel options for off-grid homes are often more expensive and less energy efficient than gas.  Furthermore, rural households are also more likely to be living in older and less thermally efficient dwellings, and to have a lower than average household income.[3]

The Healthy Housing Survey (2011) identified that mains gas was available to only 69% of properties in Herefordshire, compared to 87% nationally.[4]

Fuel poverty adversely impacts upon health and well-being through associated financial hardship as well as increased risk of conditions such as respiratory illness, high blood pressure, and hypothermia.  In addition, the physiological effects of exposure to cold room temperatures are well documented and cold homes are known to contribute to excess winter deaths.[5]

[1]Cutting the cost of keeping warm: A fuel poverty strategy for England, Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2015.

[2]Integrated Dwelling Level Housing Stock Modelling and Database for Herefordshire Council, BRE, 2019.

[3] Energy Advice Pack for Homes Off-Mains Gas: Practical advice on saving energy and reducing fuel costs for homes off the mains gas grid, National Energy Action Cymru. 2017.

[4]Healthy Housing, Michael Dyson Associates Ltd on behalf of Herefordshire Council, 2012.

[5] Cold comfort: The social and environmental determinants of excess winter deaths in England, 1986–1996, Wilkinson P, Landon M, Armstrong B, et al., Joseph Roundtree Foundation, 7 November 2001.