The context: what is the fuel poverty 

A household is said to be in fuel poverty when its members cannot afford to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost, given their income. The term is mainly used in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand, although discussions on fuel poverty are increasing across Europe, and the concept also applies everywhere in the world where poverty may be present.

The "energy poverty" is a recent growing phenomenon, mainly because of the increase in energy costs for households and the current economic crisis. It is estimated that between 50 and 125 million European citizens are the edge of the fuel poverty or at least at risk of being affected.


Fuel poverty is caused by a convergence of four factors:

  • low income, which is often linked to absolute poverty;

  • high fuel prices, including the use of relatively expensive fuel sources (such as electricity in the UK, aggravated by higher tariffs for low-volume energy users);

  • poor energy efficiency of a home, e.g. through low levels of insulation and old or inefficient heating systems;

  • under-occupancy: according to UK government statistics, on average those in the most extreme fuel poverty live in larger than average homes.

A number of illnesses, including cancer can exacerbate fuel poverty.


The project: I° Survey fuel poverty in Italy presented by Cittadinanzattiva to the Senate

Disabled and chronically ill, energy bill by more than €1.150 per year. An annual avarage spending of €1.152, which €230 of related to “health” consumption. This is the amount of the energy bill that a family forced to use electro-medical equipment has to pay. Practically, more than double that one of a family type. And sometimes these costs also come to €3.000.

These families, who have opted for the free market in 27% of cases, have at least three home medical equipment in 31% of cases, and benefit from an installed capacity of more than 4KW in 16%.

Taking into account the average annual expenditure for electricity of a typical household in Italy is €515, these households spend €637 more. Of these, only a fraction are covered by the electricity social bonus (€155), while €482 are completely borne by families. And because of the lack of information, 16% of claimants have no access to this bonus. 

These are the key findings obtained from the pilot survey on the economic impact of energy costs on the income of families affected by disability, conducted by Cittadinanzattiva, thanks to the network CnAMC National Coordination of Associations of Chronic ills and the support of the Single Buyer.

The study has been presented in Rome at the conference “Energy and Chronicity: Social solidarity for the reduction of fuel poverty” which was attended by, among others, AEEG, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Welfare, members of the Commissions of Social Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate Health and Hygiene, FISH-Italian Federation for Overcoming Handicaps, sector operators.

“Life-saving” equipment and “save quality of live”

Current legislation distinguishes between devices of series A and series B. The first are qualify for the bonus, and are electrically operated equipment necessary for the maintenance of the patient’s life. Practically, they are support equipment for function cardio-respiratory, renal, food and activity of administration. Among the equipment nonqualified for the bonus, there are the means of transport and lifting aids (i.e. lifts, stairs lifts, wheelchairs) and devices for the prevention and treatment of pressure sores. 

Disability & private costs

The shortcomings of the National Health Service involves for the person with chronic disease and for his family to take considerable private costs, especially for the welfare support (carer), pharmaceuticals costs, counseling, prosthetic assistance, the performance of diagnostic and specialist. To these are added, in many cases, the expenses for electro-medical equipment already told. Among these, the most frequent in homes of patients interviewed were: ventilator (58%), electric wheelchair (42%), mobile lift (30%), extraction(20%), lift/stair lift (19%), equipment for continuous positive airway pressure (12%), anti-bedsore mattress (9%), feed pump (5%), electric humidifier (4%), oxygen concentrator (2%), monitor for nighttime control (2%).

Disability & private costs: type of expense

Average per year

Welfare support (carer), supplementary than assistance provided by the National Health Service

€ 9.389

Purchase of necessary drugs (and not reimbursed by National Health Service) for the treatment of disease

€ 2.487

Access to psychological support service

€ 1.836

Purchase of principals, prostheses and aids not guaranteed by National Health Service

€ 1.618

Diagnostic performance (examinations for follow-up) required for the treatment and/or monitoring of the disease, which are not provided free of charge by National Health Service

€ 855

Bolletta energetica

€ 482

Source: Cittadinanzattiva – CnAMC, 2012



The survey has been conducted on a sample of 115 accidental subjects, from five patient group that collaborate with the CnAMC:

  • AISLA (Italian Association Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis);

  • AISM (Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association);

  • Parent Project Onlus (Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy);

  • UILDM (Italian Union fight against Muscolar Dystrophy);

  • Italian Association of COPD Patients. 

The study limited the phenomenon of fuel poverty to families with people suffering from chronic disabling diseases: muscular dystrophy (42.5% of the sample), multiple sclerosis (30%), COPD (17.5%), SLA (10%).

The comment By Antonio Gaudioso, Secretary-General to Cittadinanzattiva

Energy and gas: protection for citizens at risk of poverty. After the presentation to the Senate of our dossier in terms of fuel poverty, made with the Single Buyer, the Authority for Electricity and Gas has shown not only to be able to act very quickly on important issues, but also to carefully consider the “civic” information produced by the associations 

The new bonus for seriously ill patients launched by the sector helps families at risk of poverty from energy consumption due to serious illness, because it is not flat but is linked to actual consumption and machinery used.

This energy bill so high, more than €1.150, in fact, has to be added to several additional private costs that many disabled persons with chronic disease are forced to support from caregivers to not-reimbursed medicines, to principals and non-guaranteed aids by the National Health Service and more, for the total of over 16 thousand euro per year.

We expect now that social bonus would be extended to those non-life-saving equipment but equally necessary for the quality and dignity of life of thousands of people currently excluded from any social bonus.

For Cittadinanzattiva, the news of the adoption of new bonuses for seriously ill patients is proof of the importance of continuing to provide civic information and represent the point of view of all citizens at risk of poverty.


Year: 2012 

For more information, please contact: Tiziana Toto:  Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo.

With the support of:

Acquirente Unico

Mariano Votta

Iscriviti alla newsletter

Valore non valido

Valore non valido

Valore non valido

Valore non valido

Valore non valido

Valore non valido

Valore non valido

Valore non valido