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Title: Energy supplier involvement in English fuel poverty alleviation: a critical analysis of emergent approaches and implications for policy success
Authors: Probert, Lauren J.
Keywords: Fuel poverty
Energy efficiency
Energy supplier obligations
Energy policy
Policy analysis
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: © Lauren Joyce Probert
Abstract: Over the last twenty-five years, fuel poverty in England has successfully transitioned from niche academic interest to mandated concern of the state. More recently still, government have opted to charge energy suppliers with primary delivery responsibility for fuel poverty programmes. The original contribution to knowledge made by this thesis is in offering a novel comparative analysis of the potential for the state and energy suppliers to effectively support fuel poor households. This research offers one of the first academic assessments of the new suite of policies championed by the coalition government formed in 2010. It is also amongst the first pieces of work to apply and critically assess the new official metric for fuel poverty, the Low Income, High Costs definition. By assessing delivery choices against the tenets of neoliberalism identified as guiding recent UK governments, the work further takes into account the motivations of policymakers. A diverse methodological approach is applied, incorporating policy evaluation, quantitative analysis, synthesis of existing literature, and professional engagement. This research establishes that in passing the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, politicians did not appreciate the demands of the commitment to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016. Subsequently, supplier obligations initially intended as a means of mitigating climate change have become the primary policy tool for tackling fuel poverty. The evidence presented here suggests, however, that suppliers are inherently poorly suited to this task for a variety of reasons: their access to the data required to successfully identify fuel poor households is limited; they fund activity in a manner that is unavoidably regressive; and the extent to which they are able to deliver programmes more efficiently than the state is, particularly for economic interventions, subject to question. It is consequently argued that, whilst supplier obligations are likely to appeal to an austerity-driven, neoliberal government as an expedient means of keeping expenditure away from the public purse and of limiting the role of the state, this work demonstrates that increased government involvement and greater political ambition will be required if fuel poverty policies are to be successful.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
Sponsor: EPSRC, E.ON UK
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/17850
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Civil and Building Engineering)

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