Rural England

Fuel poverty

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • The proportion of households who are in fuel poverty is much higher in the most rural areas: an average of 29% over the years 2007 to 2009 compared to 24% in villages centres and 15% in urban areas.
  • See the UK indicator on fuel poverty.

Rural/urban ratios (urban = 10)

On most poverty and social exclusion indicators, rural areas have ‘better scores’ than urban areas.  The purpose of the table below is to differentiate between those subjects where rural areas are ‘a bit better’ and those where rural areas are ‘a lot better’.  It does so by presenting the rural statistics for the indicator as a proportion of the urban statistics.  So, for example, a rural ‘score’ of 6 in the table below means that the rural statistic is around 60% of its urban equivalent.

Hamlets and isolated dwellings20
Small towns and fringe10

Definitions and data sources

The graphs

The first graph shows the proportion of households deemed to be in ‘fuel poverty’.  Households are considered to be in ‘fuel poverty’ if they would have to spend more than 10% of their household income on fuel to keep their home in a ‘satisfactory’ condition, where, for example, a ‘satisfactory’ heating regime is considered to be one where the main living area is at 21 degrees centigrade with 18 degrees centigrade in the other occupied rooms.  It is thus a measure which compares income with what the fuel costs should be rather than what they actually are.  Household income is disposable household income before deducting housing costs.  The fuel costs included comprise that used for space heating, water heating, lighting, cooking and household appliances.

The second graph shows how the proportion of households deemed to be in ‘fuel poverty’ has changed over the last few years.

Level of the data

Small area urban/rural classifications using the government’s 2004 classification system for small areas.  Rural areas are those classified as ‘small town and fringe’, ‘village’ and ‘hamlet and isolated dwellings’.  Note that there is an alternative classification system which could have been used, where the surveyor of the property allocates it to one of six categories, three of which are rural.  The results using the two alternative classification systems are different, but show a broadly similar pattern.


The stock dataset from the English Housing Survey, DCLG.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

The numbers

Hamlets and isolated dwellings29%
Small towns and fringe15%
Rural (combined)19%