United Kingdom

Numbers in low income

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Note that the latest data is currently for 2003/04 as the question has not been asked since then.
  • In 2003/04, a tenth of households in the poorest fifth of the population were without central heating.  This compares with more than a fifth in 1995/96.  The proportion of households in the poorest fifth of the population who were without central heating in 2003/04 was actually lower than that for households on average incomes in 1999/00.
  • Those living in the private rented sector are the most likely to be without central heating.
  • The proportion of households without central heating is three times greater in Yorkshire than in the North East: 13% compared to 4%.  Differences in the regional prevalence of central heating are not driven by differences in the mix of types of housing tenure.  Rather, regions with high proportions of households without central heating seem to do so for each of type of housing tenure.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

The physical conditions in which people live affect their health, relations between household members, and the development of children.  The main reason for a home being classified as ‘non-decent’ is lack of a reasonable degree of thermal comfort. 1  Households without central heating also have a stronger likelihood of dampness and condensation than other homes. 2  Lack of central heating also reflects the need for modernisation of housing stock.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the proportion of households without central heating.  The data is split to show households in the poorest fifth of the income distribution and for households on average incomes (middle fifth of the income distribution) separately.  Income is household disposable income, equivalised (adjusted) to take account of household composition and is measured after deducting housing costs.

The second graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion varies by housing tenure.

The data source for both graphs is the Family Resources Survey (FRS).  The data relates to Great Britain in the first graph and to the United Kingdom in the second graph (FRS did not cover Northern Ireland prior to 2002/03).  The missing years in the first graph are because the question about central heating is only asked in some years.  Also note that the question has not been asked since 2003/04.

The third graph shows how the proportion of households without central heating varies by region and housing tenure.  The data is from the 2001 Census and relates to the United Kingdom (table so055 for England and Wales, S55 for Scotland and s358 for Northern Ireland).

The map shows how the proportion of households without central heating varies at a small area level (the 2001 Census output areas).

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  The FRS is a well-established, regular government survey, designed to be nationally representative, but the question has not been included in the survey since 2003/04.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Increase long-term housing supply and affordability

Lead department

Department for Communities and Local Government

Official national targets

Increase the number of net additional homes provided per annum to 240,000 by 2016.

Increase the number of gross affordable homes provided per annum to 70,000 by 2010-11 including 45,000 social homes.

Halve the number of households in temporary accommodation to 50,500 households by 2010.

By March 2011, 80% of local planning authorities to have adopted the necessary Development Plan Documents, in accordance with their agreed Local Development Scheme.

Other indicators of progress

Trends in affordability.

Efficiency rating of new homes.

Previous 2004 targets

By 2010, bring all social housing into decent condition with most of this improvement taking place in deprived areas, and for vulnerable households in the private sector, including families with children, increase the proportion who live in homes that are in decent condition.

Eliminate fuel poverty in vulnerable households in England by 2010 in line with the Government’s Fuel Poverty Strategy objective Joint with the department for Trade and Industry.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year Poorest fifth Households on average incomes
1994/95 21% 16%
1995/96 21% 16%
1996/97 21% 14%
1997/98 18% 13%
1998/99 18% 11%
1999/00 16% 12%
2001/02 12% 9%
2003/04 10% 8%

Graph 2

Tenure % of different tenures without central heating
Buying with a mortgage 5%
Owned outright 8%
Housing association 5%
Local authority 7%
Furnished private rented 11%
Unfurnished private rented 15%

Graph 3

Region Owned Council Other social rented Private rented Total
East 2.9% 0.2% 0.7% 1.4% 5.2%
East Midlands 3.7% 0.1% 0.7% 1.4% 5.9%
London 3.1% 0.8% 1.2% 2.6% 7.8%
North East 2.5% 0.1% 0.3% 1.1% 3.9%
North West 7.3% 0.4% 1.7% 2.4% 11.8%
Scotland 3.7% 1.3% 0.4% 1.8% 7.2%
South East 3.3% 0.3% 0.7% 1.8% 6.1%
South West 5.6% 0.4% 1.0% 2.8% 9.8%
Wales 4.6% 0.1% 1.2% 1.6% 7.5%
West Midlands 6.3% 0.3% 2.6% 2.0% 11.2%
Yorkshire and The Humber 7.4% 0.2% 2.8% 2.6% 13.1%
1. English House Conditions Survey, 2001, DCLG, 2003. 
2. Scottish House Conditions Survey, 1996: 25% of households were suffering from dampness or condensation. 17% of damp houses and 35% of houses with condensation problems had no central heating.