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Broadly speaking a household is defined as being ‘fuel poor’ if they cannot reasonably afford to heat their home.

Technically or politically speaking the definition has varied over the years. It is also a devolved matter so it varies throughout the UK: England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland all have their own definitions, measuring and strategies to tackle fuel poverty.


There are three main contributors to fuel poverty: low income, high fuel costs and inefficient homes (see diagram below).


Fuel poverty rates:

Excess Winter Deaths:

EWDs are the difference between the average daily deaths in the winter months (December to March) compared to the rest of the year.

The following figures are for England & Wales EWDs:

Winter Period

England & Wales EWD’s Gosport EWD’s

2019 to 2020

28,300 Not published yet
2018 to 2019 23,200


2017 to 2018 50,100



Causes of Excess Winter Deaths:

The top three causes of EWD’s are: respiratory conditions, circulatory conditions and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (see diagram below). Many of the causes can be linked to living in cold homes: ‘Cold homes can affect or exacerbate a range of health problems including respiratory
problems, circulatory problems and increased risk of poor mental health’ (Public Health England).