Benefits of a health impact assessment in relation to fuel poverty: Assessing Luton's Affordable Warmth Strategy and the need for a national mandatory strategy.
The links between fuel poverty and poor health are well documented, yet there is no statutory requirement on local authorities to develop fuel poverty strategies, which tend to be patchy nationally and differ substantially in quality. Fuel poverty starts from the perspective of income, even though interventions can improve health. The current public health agenda calls for more partnership-based, cost-effective strategies based on sound evidence. Fuel poverty represents a key area where there is currently little local evidence quantifying and qualifying health gain arising from strategic interventions. As a result, this initial study sought to apply the principles of a health impact assessment to Luton's Affordable Warmth Strategy, exploring the potential to identify health impact arising--as a baseline for future research--in the context of the public health agenda. A national strategy would help ensure the promotion of targeted fuel poverty strategies.