Underrepresenting neighbourhood vulnerabilities? The measurement of fuel poverty in England
The vulnerabilities that enhance the likelihood of a household falling into fuel poverty are increasingly recognised as highly multidimensional and geographical. However, the most established indicators used to measure fuel poverty are primarily based upon expenditure. This paper seeks to understand to what extent expenditure-based indicators succeed in representing wider socio-spatial vulnerabilities that manifest in particular locales. Our analysis focuses upon England, where a policy review in 2012 led to the replacement of a 10% indicator with a low-income high-cost indicator. Fuel poverty estimates are scrutinized at a neighbourhood scale, considering their relationship with a range of socio-economic, demographic and socio-technical characteristics. Place-based effects upon these relationships that arise from the wider context within which each neighbourhood sits are also accounted for using geographically weighted regression. The findings suggest that a ‘one-size fits all’ expenditure-based indicator is unlikely to capture the heterogeneous socio-spatial vulnerabilities that enhance the likelihood of fuel poverty experienced between different demographics and geographical contexts.