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Fuel poverty is defined by the government as when a household spends more than 10% of its income on energy.

It tends to particularly affect older pensioners and people with disabilities who spend much of their time at home but have a limited income.

Fuel poverty has fallen since the peaks of the 1990s but it has begun to rise again in the past two years as domestic fuel prices have risen.

Unsurprisingly, people at the lower end of the income spectrum spend proportionally more on energy than the richest households, therefore price rises hit them hardest.

The Dept of Trade and Industry estimates that for every 1% real terms rise in fuel bills, 40,000 households fall into fuel poverty.

Bar chart showing that fuel poverty fell since 1996 but rose for the first time this year

Graphic showing proportional spending on fuel by income decile

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