Paying the Price – Fuel Poverty in Ireland, North and South

Author:
Organisation:
Co-funded by the Combat Poverty Agency
Tallaght Partnership
Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust
Energy Action Grants Agency Trust and Joseph Rowntree Trust
Date: 1996
Location:

Rationale

The 1990s saw a growing focus on energy conservation and fuel poverty in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and the introduction of several policies and schemes designed to further both agendas, such as the Irish Energy Centre in the ROI and the Domestic Energy Efficiency Scheme in the UK. While geographically part of the landmass of Ireland, Northern Ireland is territorially within the UK, and its citizens and those in the south are subject to different policies and regulations. Despite this, the causes, impacts and prevalence of fuel poverty on both sides of the border have a number of similarities. It is important to share knowledge of successful approaches and ensure where possible that research and practice are comparable.





Key research Question

The report outlined the proceedings of a conference on fuel poverty organised by HEAT and NEA Northern Ireland, which was held in 1995. It aimed to provide a better understanding of the extent of fuel poverty, its specific consequences and what options may be available for cross-border approaches to the issues affecting both political units.



Summary of activity

Not applicable – Conference report



Findings

Ten presentations were delivered at the conference and reprinted in the report. Their topics included debt and disconnection in Northern Ireland; the interactions between income, property condition and heating costs in Dublin; an overview of fuel poverty and health in both Northern Ireland and the Republic; the role of fuel allowances in both countries; retrofit in Northern Ireland; citywide approaches to reducing fuel poverty in Dublin; and a case study of a community enterprise scheme designed to create employment and training opportunities in energy advice and retrofit in the ROI.



Recommendations

Each presentation contains specific recommendations. The introduction to the report includes a series of overall proposals to tackle fuel poverty in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. These are:

  • Capital investment is needed to retrofit current housing, particularly with insulation and new heating systems.
  • The fuel allowances available in the Republic should be retained and their value should not be diminished. A similar benefit should be offered in Northern Ireland.
  • Energy and housing policies should be assessed for their impact on poverty. There should be an obligation to conduct energy audits of low-income households in social and private rented accommodation, leading to a strategy for tackling the hardest-to-heat homes.
  • Effective standards and monitoring of any initiatives must be implemented and coordinated by a new National Energy Committee responsible for both Northern Ireland and the Republic.


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