Lower income households, often found in the private rental sector, are set to bear the brunt of the rising inflation and soaring fuel bills.
That’s the view of the Chartered Institute of Housing, which says in England alone - across all tenures - nine million poor people live in energy-inefficient homes, making them particularly vulnerable to inflated energy prices.
Even before the energy price increases, 39.1 per cent of owner-occupiers and 37.6 per cent of private renters were living in fuel poverty, along with 23.2 per cent of social tenants.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, undertaking research for the CIH, examined the drivers of poverty within individual tenures in England, looking at energy efficiency by sector.
Although higher poverty rates are found in the social rented sector, tenants are more likely to live in energy-efficient homes than private tenants or owner-occupiers: 56 per cent of social rented tenants in England live in a property in EPC bands A to C and only three per cent of properties are rated E or below.
The private rented sector had only 29 per cent of properties rated in the A to C bracket and 19 per cent in E or below.
Owner-occupiers actually fared worst, with 27 per cent of properties rated A to C and 22 per cent rated E or below.
The CIH says benefit levels have not kept pace with rising inflation.
Based on conservative estimates, not taking into account the effect of the Ukraine crisis, the CIH finds that nine million households in receipt of income-related benefits will incur an average real-terms cut of £500 per year, with a ‘double whammy’ for working claimants who will be hit by a rise of 1.25 per cent in the national insurance rate for the social care levy.
Latest analysis from the Resolution Foundation estimates the conflict in Ukraine could push peak inflation in 2022-23 above eight per cent.
This could leave the typical real household income (for non-pensioners) four per cent – or £1,000 – lower than in 2021-22.
Sam Lister, policy officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, says: “The government needs to be much bolder in its approach to this looming crisis and at the very least increase benefits in line with actual inflation in April 2022 to mitigate some of the extra costs.
“We’re calling on government to reinstate the £20 Universal Credit uplift, remove the benefit cap and introduce clear, longer-term plans to tackle homes with poor energy efficiency, especially in the private sector. Without this we will see many more households and families plunged into poverty.”