Solving fuel poverty: opportunities from Green Deal and localisation

Localise West Midlands has now completed its research project “Using a Green New Deal Approach to Tackling Fuel Poverty.”

Project report (pdf):

Solving Fuel Poverty: opportunities from Green Deal and Localisation

The aim of the research was to find out how fuel poor individuals can benefit from pay-as-you-save and feed-in energy tariff schemes, and was funded by the Scottish Power Energy People Trust.

A two-page version – Green deal & fuel poverty briefing LWM 2011 – is also available summarising our recommendations to help those involved in designing the green deal, responding to forthcoming related consultations, tariff reform etc.

These are exciting times as innovative finance mechanisms such as Feed-In Tariffs[1] and Pay-As-You-Save[2] are opening up unprecedented opportunities for low-carbon retrofit.  Feed-in tariffs are payments to ordinary energy users for the renewable electricity they generate and pay-as-you save schemes are government finance initiatives that provide a loan so that households can install renewable energy technology with no upfront cost and immediately reduce their energy bills. Schemes such as Birmingham Energy Savers based on these are showing how to achieve a local multiplier effect through creating local jobs and keeping energy spend within the local economy.

Yet many people fear that Feed-In Tariffs and Pay-As-You-Save schemes will mainly benefit the fuel rich, and will open up a new fuel poverty gap, with the poorest people being left behind by this low carbon revolution.  The respected environmental campaigner, George Monbiot, for example, sparked a fierce public debate about the subject in the Guardian a while ago.

It is for these reasons that Localise West Midlands undertook this action research project to examine what barriers exist to the fuel poor benefitting from these schemes, and what action needs to be taken to address the barriers.

We examined the themes of:

  • debt/poverty
  • metering
  • bill payment
  • financial literacy
  • corporate social responsibility
  • social policy
  • hard-to-treat homes issues
  • regulatory issues.

This research should be of interest to many practitioners and decision makers in local government, energy and social policy in designing and managing Green Deal and similar schemes to provide at least proportionate benefits to the fuel poor.

This project was led by Localise West Midlands associates, Phil Beardmore ( and Jon Morris.

The report was also launched at our AGM discussion event on 11th October with a fruitful discussion – thanks to those who participated.

We would like to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Scottish Power Energy People Trust for this project.