Welsh initiative aims to reach 350,000 households across the country
The research project entitled “How Fuel Poor Households Manage Fuel Use and Bills” was made possible when the Trust donated almost £25,000 to conduct research.
Fuel poverty research by the Foundation specifically examines how people cope with fuel poverty, and attitudes to and awareness of energy efficiency. It will enable agencies to better understand and target the difficulties of those affected.
Research involved semi-structured interviews with members of the public in South Wales, including follow up telephone interviews with those identified as likely to be in fuel poverty, detailed qualitative interviews with key stakeholders in the public, private and voluntary sectors, and a round table discussion event with housing associations in Wales examining the role they play in tackling fuel poverty.
Complete findings will be published in late 2010. However, the main emerging trend from the research is that people in fuel poverty adopt a range of coping behaviours that lie on a spectrum between two extremes of (1) staying warm but going into debt or not consuming other essentials in order to pay for staying warm, and (2) self-disconnecting and staying cold in order to avoid having to pay for fuel.
Both coping strategies carry with them serious and significant health risks and form part of the wider problems people in poverty face. This research shows that whilst debt is used as a coping strategy for people who view their situation as temporary (i.e. those in fuel poverty because they have lost a job and are confident of obtaining another), self-disconnection is a strategy used by people for whom fuel poverty is more severe and persistent. The majority of the people interviewed by the Bevan Foundation adopted strategies of staying cold and trying to avoid high bills as opposed to going into debt or arrears.
Ann Loughrey, ScottishPower’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and The ScottishPower Energy People Trust’s Company Secretary, said:
“The work which has been carried out by the Bevan Foundation since it was launched in 2001 has had a significant impact on the lives of people in Wales and the issues they face.
“This is exactly the kind of project that the ScottishPower Energy People Trust looks for and we are delighted that we were able to help out.
“Different types of support are provided to charities tackling fuel poverty, including crisis funding, benefits entitlement check, energy efficiency measures and research – all measures to help alleviate fuel poverty. The research carried out by the Bevan Foundation will help focus on the immediate and long-term needs of people affected by fuel poverty.”
Victoria Winckler, Director of the Bevan Foundation, said:
“We were delighted to receive funding from the Scottish Power Energy People Trust to support this project. We’re amazed how little was known about how households on low income manage their fuel and hope our findings will help to target assistance more effectively.”
Friday, August 27, 2010