Fuel poverty is one of the biggest challenges of our time. The latest Scottish House Condition Survey estimates that 940,000 households (39%) in Scotland find it a challenge, or impossible to maintain, a satisfactory heating regime without spending more than 10% of their income. To reduce these figures local authorities are required, through the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS), to provide energy efficiency improvements to those households most affected by rising fuel bills, whether that’s gas, electricity, solid fuel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or oil. Although a number of excellent statistics are publicly available for identifying these households, including the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, previously there has not been a resource that effectively estimates levels of fuel poverty to such a high level of accurate detail. That is, until now.
For the past year Changeworks has produced fuel poverty maps across Scotland to assist local authorities, neighbourhood partnerships and community groups to identify areas most in need of energy efficiency improvements. The maps were generated using a method outlined by the Centre for Sustainable Energy in 1995. The maps are free and available at local authority level. Two recent examples of local authority maps are shown below. Map A covers a predominately rural and remote context, Highlands, while Map B an urban one, Glasgow City. Stephen Carr, Principal Policy Officer, Climate Change, from The Highland Council explains the value of the map to their work:
“The map was a useful tool for a Member briefing, giving an evidence base for discussions, and to focus the political minds of the Council. On the back of this, a paper has been drafted which pulls together the actions being taken to address fuel poverty in the Highlands and recommendations for what more we need to do.”
Map A: Highland
Map B: Glasgow City
Changeworks has also supported local authorities on a consultancy basis by providing more in-depth analysis including the underlying data. We’ve also seen a number of local authorities benefiting from recommendations that arose when the fuel poverty map information is combined with local and national datasets.
Les Brown, Fuel Poverty Officer at Fife Council confirms: “The fuel poverty maps and data provided by Changeworks have been used in a number of beneficial ways. Primarily data has been incorporated into our online mapping resource used by Fife Council Services and external partners to give guidance on where work or funding is required. We have also used the data to assess fuel poverty for HEEPS projects. Local community groups have also found it useful in securing funding for services to tackle fuel poverty.”
Reducing levels of fuel poverty is a key Changeworks objective. Our role is to inform the debate and help channel finite resources effectively to meet this significant challenge.