Data on fuel poverty in social housing across EU

While energy poverty has attracted growing policy and academic interest across Europe in recent years, there is no common definition of energy poverty and the issue is explicitly recognized in the legislation of very few countries[1]. Much of the recent work recognizes that “energy poverty extends beyond a unique variable and could be measured with a greater degree of accuracy using a multidimensional framework[2]”. As such, a number of energy poverty metrics are reported, these fall broadly into two main approaches, questionnaire based (household responses about their energy use and costs) and expenditure-based (built on data on household energy expenses). While researchers continue to develop approaches to identifying fuel poor populations, in all cases energy efficiency is a principal determinant of fuel poverty; “energy poverty is a structural issue, mainly arising from poor energy efficient buildings and/or labour market inefficiencies” and “thermal efficiency plays a crucial role in shaping individual and countries’ average degrees of energy poverty.”[3] Other studies point to the wider context of fuel poverty as “produced and aggravated by a lack of financial, social and informational resources”.

Following the guidelines by the EU Energy Poverty Observatory online platform[5], the energy poverty indicators are organised in “primary indicators” and “secondary indicators[6].

Using the Eurostat Energy data and the Eurostat INCOME AND LIVING CONDITIONS datasets for the SUPER-i partner countries relevant tables and charts for the above indicators are shown below. While the EU average rates of homes unable to be kept adequately warm in winter has fallen in the previous decade, of the 6 fellow countries, progress has been only been strong in Italy and Slovenia, with marginal progress in Belgium, and stasis in Denmark, Spain and the UK.  A similar trend can be seen on the arrears on billsmetric, though the ratios across the metrics are not similar, with e.g. nearly twice as many households in UK than Slovenia unable to keep their homes warm, but nearly three times as many households in Slovenia than that UK in utility bill arrears over the last decade.

[1] Cyprus, France, Ireland, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom

[2] Inequality of energy poverty between groups in Spain

[3] Constructing energy poverty profiles for an effective energy policy, Jan 2019

[5] https://energy-poverty.ec.europa.eu/energy-poverty-observatory/indicators_en

[6] https://energy-poverty.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2021-09/epov_methodology_guidebook_1.pdf