Fuel poverty in London: research and policy report

Helping the GLA to understand fuel poverty in London

Project duration: January 2017 to July 2017

Who’s struggling to keep warm in London and what can the Greater London Authority do to help them? These were the central questions that our research team worked to answer in the fuel poverty policy report written for the GLA in partnership with CAG Consultants, Association for the Conservation of Energy and SE2. The report lays out the facts and figures that they will need to develop an effective plan for tackling fuel poverty in the city.

London faces some unique challenges in tackling fuel poverty – high living costs, a large number of flats and high rise buildings, and higher costs for delivering fuel poverty schemes (due to the city’s size). But, there are also some opportunities that London is uniquely placed to take advantage of; an active Mayor’s office with London-wide powers committed to reducing fuel poverty, the planned set up of the not-for-profit energy company, Energy for Londoners, and a range of borough-level fuel poverty schemes which are already working well.

The report contains research which should help the GLA to navigate these challenges and includes:

  • Social indicator maps showing the distribution and prevalence of fuel poverty at LSOA level, the changes in the prevalence of fuel poverty between 2011-2014 and the location and distribution of energy inefficient homes with a low SAP rating
  • Profiles of the different types of fuel poor household – showing how fuel poverty cuts across age, ethnicity, income level, disability, type of dwelling, different employment status, tenures and payment and heating methods
  • Graphs showing fuel poverty trends in London over time
  • An inventory of existing fuel poverty schemes in London to show what’s working well, how these schemes are organised and funded and where they operate
  • Examples of best practice from the UK
  • Modelling that shows what effect future policies and programme would have in alleviating fuel poverty, the cost of these programmes and the percentage change in the prevalence of fuel poverty

The report concludes with some recommendations for possible future action, including the suggestion that the GLA set up a single fuel poverty advice hub for all Londoners, with one phone number which is designed to refer people through to local schemes and that the GLA work to raise the profile of fuel poverty action amongst relevant organisations and businesses.

"We hope that this report will be useful for the GLA in developing their fuel poverty action plan. It's a really comprehensive look at the current state of play and honestly points out some of the difficulties that may lie ahead. Despite these difficulties there's a great opportunity for London to take a national lead on fuel poverty action and develop some innovative approaches to dealing with cold homes at a large scale." said Dr Toby Bridgeman, CSE's lead on the project.

The research clearly demonstrated that there are stark contrasts not only in the prevalence of fuel poverty across the city, but also in the support that different councils offer and the programmes that have worked best in the past. That indicates that any London-wide fuel poverty plan will need to be flexible enough to respond to diverse local needs and to meet the challenge of cold homes in the nation's capital.

CSE carried out the mapping, data analysis and modelling, CAG and SE2 conducted interviews and ACE carried out additional desk-based research. The draft Fuel Poverty Action Plan has now been published by the GLA and draws heavily on the research contained in the report. The draft plan is open for consultation until November 17 and is available to read here.

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