Fuel Poverty – Socialist Double Speak

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There are so many kinds of “poverty” today that the socialists are eager to “deal with” that you almost need a reference guide for the definitions.

One of the silliest kinds of poverty is “Fuel Poverty” defined as:

Households are considered by the Government 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.

Why 10%, not 5% or 15% or 18% ?
What is a satisfactory condition?
Satisfactory to who?

Well, it’s 10% because some socialist somewhere decided that 10% was a fair amount for people to spend on fuel and its satisfactory if they say it is!

I have two tests for any definition of “poor”before I will accept it:

1. Does this definition of  “poverty” allow people that most of us would think of as rich to be classified as poor and miss out people who would generally be thought of as poor ?

So let’s apply test 1 to “Fuel Poverty”:

If you live in an old mansion with no insulation which costs £10,000 a year to heat and you earn £90,000 a year then you are a household in Fuel Poverty.

You may have inherited your £5 Million old mansion and own it outright, you may have £80,000 a year to spend on whatever you want, but you are still “fuel poor”.

However, If a family of 4, survive in a tiny, modern, well insulated studio flat that costs very little to heat and live on state benefits, they are not “poor”.

2. Could you devise policies that would eliminate this type of “poverty” and yet make everybody worse off:

So lets apply test 2 to “Fuel Poverty”

How about a law making everyone live in a house with a minimum of 16 other people, that would eliminate fuel poverty.

What about cutting ALL incomes by 10% and ALL fuel costs by 50%.

So a person earning £10,000 a year and paying £1,000 a year in fuel costs (10%). They are in fuel poverty and have just £9,000 left to spend on other things.

After the new policy is introduced they earn £9,000 a year and pay just £500 a year in fuels costs , (5.3%) so they are lifted out of fuel poverty. Unfortunately they only have £8,500 left to spend on other things so they are £500 a year worse off than before!

All those not in fuel poverty would, of course, be even worse off under the new policy.

“Fuel Poverty” is one of those stupid measures that socialists like to pretend measures one thing, poverty, but is actually driven by a whole series of other things, like:

1) The size of home someone lives in

2) The energy efficiency of the home someone lives in

3) The energy source people use to heat their home, e.g. gas, electric or oil

4) The cost of energy relative to other household expenditures

5) Number of people living in a home

6) Total income of all those living in a household

Socialists like this measure because it is really a way to attack income distribution rather than “poverty” (At least in any sense that ordinary people understand the term.)

People on the bottom of the income distribution scale will always have a greater proportion of their income taken up by fixed living costs such as energy.  With rising energy prices it is quite possible for disposable incomes to increase substantially and yet have more people fall into fuel poverty.

What is important in determining true poverty is not what proportion of household income is taken up on fuel or how one persons income compares to another, but whether there is enough money to meet the basic needs of life.

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