Energy Seminar – Week 2 HT24: Finding the fuel poor and framing better policy

Dr Brenda Boardman, Emeritus Fellow, ECI, Dr Tina Fawcett, Senior Researcher, ECI

Dr Brenda Boardman, Emeritus Fellow, ECI

Summary: During winter 2022/23 residential energy prices were exceptionally high in the UK and Europe. The UK government responded by subsidising prices for all households, spending almost £50 billion, and similar decisions were made across Europe. Despite the huge expenditure of public money, many millions of households still suffered from inadequate access to energy.

This talk presents analysis of the experience of UK households with smart prepayment meters in the years prior to and during the 2022/23 energy price crisis. Fuel poverty is highly concentrated in these households, and they are a group  who have been overlooked in terms of research focus and policy attention.

The analysis examines how energy use and rates and duration of self-disconnections have varied with external temperature, price, and both dwelling and household characteristics. The talk examines how different policies and targeted payments have affected energy use and disconnection – giving insights into how future policy should be designed. Policy reforms are proposed for people facing fuel poverty in general, focusing on both targeted price support and reform of the current Cold Weather Payment system.

These policy proposals were first published in August 2023. A brief explanation is given on how the proposals have been used to try to influence government decision-making and ask whether there was anything else could have been done to be more effective.

Speaker: Brenda Boardman is an Emeritus Fellow at the ECI following her retirement in September 2008. She is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter. At the ECI, Brenda was the former head of the Lower Carbon Futures team and a co-director of the UK Energy Research Centre Her main research focus is on how to achieve demand reduction in energy across the UK economy, but in particular the built environment.

Speaker: Tina Fawcett’s research concerns energy use by households and organisations, and uses a multi-disciplinary approach to understand current patterns of use and to identify opportunities and policies for reducing energy use and carbon emissions.

Tina leads the ‘policy and governance’ theme in the Centre for Research on Energy Demand Solutions. Her research work within CREDS focuses on policy for further, faster and more flexible delivery of energy demand reduction, particularly in relation to buildings energy use. She also works on: Energy Superhub Oxford, a large demonstration project trialing smart local energy systems; M-BENEFITS an EU H2020 project on the multiple benefits of energy efficiency for businesses; and, the EPSRC Network for the Decarbonisation of Heating and Cooling Tina is involved in climate change education research and outreach, including with Oxford’s Department of Education on ‘climate change education futures in India’ and in developing Maths for Planet Earth

From 2005–10 Tina was a member of UK Energy Research Centre’s demand reduction research team, doing research on personal carbon trading, the role of heat pumps in the UK, and energy use in the higher education sector.

Tina teaches the policy and governance module on the Energy Systems MSc

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