Social policy expert Professor John Hills has been appointed to lead an independent review of fuel poverty in England.
A household is currently classed as being in 'fuel poverty' if it would need to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to 'maintain a satisfactory heating regime'. This is defined as 21°c for the main living area, and 18°c for other occupied rooms.
The review will look at what causes fuel poverty, its effects, and how best to measure it. If appropriate, based on initial findings, it will identify and consult on alternative options.
Latest figures suggest that in 2010, four million households were in fuel poverty in England. Full statistics are available at: www.bit.ly/6pJZmh.
The review will publish interim findings in autumn 2011, and provide a final report to government no later than January 2012.
A call for evidence has also been launched at www.decc.gov.uk/hillsfuelpovertyreview. The closing date for responses is 6 June 2011.
Energy & Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, who made the appointment, said: "The government is committed to help people, especially the vulnerable, heat their homes more affordably. The review will analyse how we define and measure fuel poverty from an independent perspective. Professor Hills will bring insight, authority and understanding to the role of the independent reviewer. I have asked him to report back to me with his final findings early next year."
Professor John Hills said: “Many households have been under pressure from their heating bills this winter, some severely so because of their particular needs or difficulties in keeping their homes warm. It is crucial that we measure the scale of the problem. I am looking forward to reviewing the evidence on the underlying issues that lead to fuel poverty and on how well the current measure reflects the problems involved and the effectiveness of policies to counter it."