Fuel poverty results from a combination of inadequate heating and insulation so more fuel is consumed to heat a property, low household income and high energy costs. A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime (usually 21 degrees for the main living area, and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms). The elderly, children, and those with a disability or long-term illness are especially vulnerable.
Fuel poverty has negative impacts on physical and psychological health, general wellbeing, and educational attainment. High, unaffordable energy costs also contribute to social isolation, wider deprivation as people cannot afford to heat their homes as well as buy other essential such as adequate food, and mental distress resulting from anxieties about debt and possible disconnection from supply. Fuel poverty affects the lives of individuals and families but also impacts on the wider community as financial resources that might benefit the local economy are consumed by the high cost of energy.
Councils in the North East have underlined their commitment to tackling fuel poverty through being signatories to the North East Fuel Poverty Declaration.