Fuel poverty is recognised by researchers as a major challenge for European citizens and their governments. However, individual countries have given the topic different levels of recognition, priority and resources on both an academic and a policy level. Comparisons between countries have been rare in the literature to date and may offer a valuable perspective.
Key research Question
The study sought to compare the experiences of fuel poverty in Germany and the UK. The UK is widely perceived to be at the leading edge of research and policy development in this field; the report examines whether there are transferable lessons from which Germany could benefit, especially in understanding the concepts and definitions associated with fuel poverty, establishing appropriate measurements and implementing change.
Summary of activity
The report includes a literature review, which considers the evolution of the concept of fuel poverty, and debates on causation (e.g. low incomes and energy-inefficient properties), impacts and mitigation. These are followed by a comparative analysis of socioeconomic factors in each country that contribute to fuel poverty. This uses a multiple streams framework theoretical model to analyse policy development in both countries.
While fuel poverty is an issue of increasing urgency in Germany, unlike in the UK there is little regular monitoring and very few academic studies touch on the subject. It is suggested that this is because fuel poverty has not been seen as a distinct issue but rather as part of poverty in general and because policy has largely been focused on providing sustainable energy sources (i.e. supply interventions).
The UK has a considerable number of policies (and financial resources) aimed at reducing fuel poverty, whereas Germany has very few, partly as a result of assumptions about the adequacy of state support. However, rising fuel prices and other issues make this view increasingly untenable.
Germany needs to develop a conceptual framework that includes an agreed definition and adequate monitoring.
An established indicator from the UK should be tested as a tool for assessing fuel poverty in Germany. However, further research is needed to assess the best fit indicators for Germany.