Any household spending more than 10% of their income to heat their home to a satisfactory level is considered to be in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty for people in vulnerable households has increased to 3.75m, up from 3.25m, according to figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change
The statistics cover 2008. Figures are expected to level off this year because of a fall in energy prices.
Dave Timms, climate campaigner for the Friends of the Earth said
"It's a national disgrace that over four million households are still living in fuel poverty in the 21st century, as a result huge numbers of vulnerable families, pensioners and children are suffering from ill health and high energy bills."
Fuel Poverty worsens in the winter. According to Wikipedia
, on average, there is an 18% rise in deaths during the winter months. Last winter was the coldest in a decade and the number of deaths rose by 49% on the year before.
David Timms said
"The freezing weather last winter should have been a wake-up call to politicians of all parties, yet the coalition has not set out a clear strategy to eliminate fuel poverty. This is urgently needed if they are to improve on Labour's poor record."
Friends of the Earth has long campaigned to put an end to fuel poverty and, along with other organisations, have called for legislation to be included in the Energy Bill so that privately rented homes must have a minimum standard of energy efficiency.
In a press release David Timms said
"Many of those living in fuel poverty are tenants unable to take steps to make their homes cheaper and easier to keep warm."
"The Government must introduce a legal minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes making it an offence to let the worst insulated, health- hazard homes until they are improved."
The increase in energy costs has played a major part in the rise of fuel poverty.
Jenny Saunders, Chief Executive of National Energy Action said
"We are disappointed but in no way surprised at these figures. The adverse impact of virtually relentless energy price increases since 2004 has been catastrophic in terms of the scale of fuel poverty."