Our fuel and transport poverty research has found that energy and transport poverty is caused by a mix of reasons including financial and infrastructural inequalities such as low incomes, poor housing quality, use of expensive technology such as prepayment meters, lack of public transport and ‘forced’ ownership of personal cars.
Our research suggests that vulnerability to energy and transport poverty is deep-rooted in the structure of societies, extending beyond only the energy and transport domains. We also found that fuel and transport poverty impact on people’s quality of life, for example living in a cold home and lacking sufficient travel options can have detrimental effects on health, education and life opportunities.
North-South and Urban-Rural divide
Our research found a clear north-south and urban-rural divide. In the energy poverty domain, one of the surprising findings was the high degree of energy poverty in peri-urban areas, possibly due to higher energy costs and lower Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) values. The transport poverty showed high values in inner-city areas outside of London, possibly as a result of poor accessibility and car ownership scores. The greatest vulnerability to double energy poverty was found in isolated rural communities that have a high proportion of residents who are disadvantaged in socio-economic and demographic terms.
Net-zero policy can be designed to have positive outcomes on those in fuel and transport poverty
Our research found that decarbonisation policies, if designed and delivered appropriately and fairly, can grow the economy and reduce vulnerability to fuel and transport poverty, though there can be winners and losers. Low-carbon technology adoption will cluster in more affluent households unless there is sufficient government support for people vulnerable to fuel and transport poverty to adopt low-carbon technologies. Without this government support, higher income homes will benefit from the energy and cost saving opportunities of low-carbon technologies, while vulnerable households may get left behind.
Equity and redistribution should therefore be taken account in policymaking. A net-zero carbon economy, delivered in the right way, has the potential to reduce fuel and transport poverty while helping to grow the economy and employment across the country.
Priorities for policy were identified
Our research participants gave the following priorities for policies to improve energy poverty:
- Regulations requiring landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their homes
- Increasing the level of support under the Warm Homes Discount scheme
- Ensuring that new homes are much more energy efficient.
Policies to improve transport poverty were:
- Making bus and train fares and ticketing simpler and cheaper
- Restoring bus services post-COVId-19
- Resourcing local authorities so that they can install electric vehicle charging.
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