Wheel of Fortune Measuring Fuel Poverty

Localise West Midlands has developed a methodology for measuring fuel poverty called the fuel poverty Wheel of Fortune, which has been adopted by the Birmingham Affordable Warmth Partnership, and which we have used on previous evaluations of fuel poverty projects.

We have used the Wheel of Fortune to measure fuel poverty, and progress made in tackling it, among the beneficiaries with whom we have conducted telephone interviews.  In the Wheel Of Fortune the various aspects of fuel poverty e.g. severity of cold/damp related medical conditions; level of fuel debt; energy efficiency rating; income levels and others are represented by spokes on a wheel. Proxy indicators are used where appropriate. Position on each spoke is determined by a point scale, supported by appropriate absolute or relative evidence (e.g., energy efficiency is based on SAP rating of energy advisor survey; customer behaviour a range from thrifty to wasteful based on interview responses, etc).

People in fuel poverty will be characterised by indicators positioned nearer the centre of the spokes, and people with less of an issue will be characterised by indicators closer to the edge of the wheel. The closer the indicators appear to the outside of the wheel, the less risk the subject has of fuel poverty. This data can be typically gathered during the intervention and also by desktop research. The datasets used can be adapted according to the resources of the project to gather data.

The Wheel enables us to take a before and after picture to visually show what the intervention has achieved and clearly to identify and visualise specific problems or strengths rather than reducing a complex problem to a single averaged­out indicator as other methods do. It also enables us to build an individualised picture of the unique way in which fuel poverty affects an individual household and how varied are the symptoms of fuel poverty from household to household.

The Wheel of Fortune chart used in the examples below has two sets of spokes; blue = before (beginning of project) and red = after. Where the results before and after are the same, then the blue spokes will be on top. Therefore, if only a blue spoke can be seen, then this means that the result before is the same as the result after. Where red spoke is visible, this shows improvement.  The Wheel of Fortune builds on the Factor Four approach to fuel poverty developed by NEF and others in the 1990s, and more recently adopted by Birmingham Affordable Warmth Partnership. Factor Four argued that fuel poverty interventions needed to address all four factors of fuel poverty, which it identified as energy efficiency; energy advice; payment method; money advice.

If you would like to use the Wheel of Fortune in your fuel poverty project, please email info@localisewestmidlands.org.uk for a discussion about how we can help you.