Exploring Local and Community Capacity to Reduce Fuel Poverty: The Case of Home Energy Advice Visits in the UK
Local delivery of support to householders to reduce the exposure to, and impacts of, fuel poverty is attracting increasing policymaker interest, but there is a dearth of empirical research that describes and evaluates local support schemes. Community organisations are viewed as having great potential to aid this delivery, but research on how this could be achieved is scarce. The research presented in this paper responds to these needs through an exploratory study of the delivery of home energy advice visits in the UK. Data were collected through interviews and supporting documents from twelve projects and analysis examined the inter-relationships between the process, delivered outputs and impacts of each project. The research findings suggest that long-term local professional initiatives appear to be most effective at reaching and providing support to fuel poor households across a local area. Community organisations appear to have some potential to fill gaps in local provision and can assist professional initiatives, particularly through signposting, but a lack of volunteer capacity ultimately constrains their impact. Issues identified for further study include: how local support services can be resourced and delivered nationwide; trade-offs between pursuing climate change and fuel poverty agendas; a need for more robust evidence of impacts.