Fuel Poverty and the New Local Authority Performance Framework: An examination of the impact of NI187 on fuel poverty alleviation in London
This paper examines the impact that the new local authority performance framework, and in particular the NI187 performance indicator, is having on action to tackle fuel poverty at the local level. The 2001 Fuel Poverty Strategy made a commitment to eliminate fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010 and throughout the UK by 2016. However, due to various factors such as rising energy prices and the economic downturn, fuel poverty has increased on a yearly basis since 2003 and it is now estimated over 4 million households are affected. Clearly the 2001 targets will not be met. Yet despite the growth of fuel poverty only 40 out of 150 local areas in the UK have adopted the NI187 performance indicator set up with the new local authority framework to help monitor and alleviate fuel poverty. The ratio of uptake in London is even more nominal with only three local authorities adopting. Thus, it is at this critical juncture of growing fuel poverty and dramatic change in the nature of local governance that this timely study is conducted. The study employs a multi-method approach, combining semi structured government and stakeholder interviews with statistical data analysis, in the pursuit of four key research objectives. Firstly, the views and rationales of LAs in relation to NI187 adoption and nonadoption are explored. Secondly, the first round of NI187 performance data released by DECC is analysed, with a key emphasis on comparative performance analysis. The report is one of the first to examine the new data. Following this, the impacts and underlying utility of the NI187 and the new performance framework on fuel poverty reduction is examined. Finally, the report concludes with a series of tentative policy recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of how fuel poverty is tackled.