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Area-based targeting of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland: An evidenced-based approach


Government authorities in the UK have implemented a number of anti-fuel poverty policies, given the known adverse health effects associated with cold homes. To date, the targeting of policies has been poor, as those in greatest need cannot be identified easily. Area-based platforms have potential to improve the targeting of these policies. We adopt an evidence-based approach, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques, to develop a small area fuel poverty risk index for Northern Ireland using a range of environmental and socio-economic variables. We identify areas at highest risk of fuel poverty and find both large- and small-scale spatial variability in risk using analyses of spatial association. Risk is highest in open countryside and in medium-sized towns. Evidence of spatial concentration of fuel poverty risk demonstrates that there is a justified rationale for implementing fuel poverty strategies from an area-based platform. This knowledge has the potential to guide policy-makers and improve the cost-effectiveness of anti-fuel poverty policies.