Even with lower gas prices and the good weather providing little reason to turn on the heat, over one in five Belgian households (20.7%) is experiencing fuel poverty.
That number increases to 28.3% for households in Wallonia, and 27.6% for people living in Brussels. In Flanders, the number was lower at 15.1%.
The information comes from a report commissioned by the King Baudouin Foundation and reported in Le Soir.
Being fuel poor in this sense refers to people with abnormally high gas and electricity bills in relation to their disposable income (after deducting the cost of housing), and also people with bills that are abnormally low because they are restricting their electricity or heating use due to lack of means.
A lack of income due to unemployment is a factor, but the Foundation also said, “15.7% of households with one income from work and just over 3% of households with two or more incomes from work are also in fuel poverty.”
The Foundation says renovating social housing is a “key lever” in the fight against fuel poverty, as it affects 41% of such households, and warns that the current coronavirus pandemic is likely worsening the matter.
“This situation is likely to worsen in the context of the health crisis, which exacerbates the difficulties of the poor,” said director Françoise Pissart.