There’s hidden problem of fuel poverty amongst young people, particularly students, according to research being presented by the Royal Geographical Society.
Fuel poverty is usually defined as where households have to spend more than 10% of their income before housing costs on heating their homes to an acceptable level; in the UK the problem is usually associated with older people or those with a disability or illness, and initial government targets were to eliminate it amongst those groups.
But the study, in the Birmingham district of Bournbrook, found significant evidence that a large proportion of flat-sharing young people, particularly students, are also living in fuel poverty in poor quality and inefficient housing.
The study found:
- Around half of the young people surveyed said they had been cutting back on their use of appliances to save energy
- An overwhelming majority did not believe they were living in fuel poverty, though more than half reported problems of mould and condensation
Commenting, Dr Petrova said:
“This group represent a part of society that is invisible to fuel poverty assistance and many of them do not acknowledge or recognise that they are experiencing fuel poverty. Yet many suffer from inadequate warmth or other problems related to the maintenance and condition of their property.
“In addition to the poor knowledge of thermal comfort and energy efficiency standards, their situation is, in part, attributable to the widespread cultural expectation that it is acceptable for young people to live in poorly-heated and low quality housing.
“Capital investment in housing, accompanied by a set of more formal and stringent set of obligations for landlords to improve the energy efficiency of rental housing, may provide a useful way to address such problems. Universities, who are distorting the housing market and indirectly creating some of the conditions that lead to this situation, also need to take a more active role.”