This report commissioned by the Rural Services Network concluded that existing measures are inadequate to the scale of the problem.
The research confirmed expectations that fuel disadvantage is having a deep impact affecting more than 70% of rural households. It also showed that this figure could be deeper still but for the finding that a large percentage of rural households are switching their heating down or off in winter months and going without other things, such as food, to reduce their fuel costs.
Rural households affected by fuel disadvantage are more likely to live in pre-second world war properties and to be owner occupiers. Fuel disadvantage is further exacerbated in rural areas due to unique rural characteristics such as the higher number of solid wall properties, the higher number of off gas properties and lower than average wages earned in the rural economy.
In England, there are currently 9.2 million dwellings that can be considered hard to heat, accounting for 43% of the total stock. Within this, dwellings with solid walls and off the gas network make up the largest component. Nearly 84% of this hard to heat stock is in the private sector.
The report is available from RCN.