Fuel Poverty and Policy in Ireland and the European Union
Despite Government spending in excess of €63m per annum on income supplements to mitigate fuel poverty, almost one-in-ten Irish households suffer from persistent fuel poverty. This paper review levels of fuel poverty across the EU using a new (Consensual) methodology founded on socially perceived necessities. It is found that southern Europe suffers from the highest national incidences of fuel poverty, however the national estimate of fuel poverty in Ireland is among the highest in northern Europe. The incidence of fuel poverty is highest among low-income groups, such as lone parents and the unemployed. As many as 2,000 excess winter deaths in Ireland are associated with fuel poverty and domestic energy inefficiency. Lack of income and information are found to be the main reasons for households failing to invest in energy efficiencies.
It is argued that southern European nations like Greece, Spain and Portugal need to adopt the most radical policy shifts in tackling energy inefficiencies and fuel poverty. Full-scale retrofitting programmes are recommended with heavy subsidisation of low-income households in an attempt to reduce the remarkable levels of housing deprivation, fuel poverty and related adverse health outcomes. An extensive programme is required to deal with the unsatisfactory level of fuel poverty and blow-par energy efficiency standards in Irish housing; a programme aimed a social housing (similar to the UK Home Energy Efficiency Scheme) is recommended.