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Research aims for justice in energy policy

Posted on 21 January 2016

A major new research project led by the University of York will examine the way energy efficiency policies in the UK affect groups who are vulnerable to fuel poverty, and identify a sustainable direction for future policy which is fair to all consumers.

lightbulb (credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr)

The two-year study -- Policy Pathways to Justice in Energy Efficiency -- involves the University’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work (SPSW) and its Centre for Housing Policy (CHP).

Researchers will conduct case studies of vulnerable groups such as disabled people and low income families with children in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. They will also interview policy makers at the UK and national level, as well as householders in receipt of energy efficiency measures.

Dr Carolyn Snell, of SPSW, said the research, which is funded by the UK Energy Research Centre, would explore some of the key gaps in knowledge regarding justice in energy efficiency policy in the UK.

“Though disabled people and low income families with children are defined in UK policy as vulnerable to fuel poverty, there is very little evidence about how the needs of these groups are recognised or incorporated into energy efficiency policy decisions.” she said.

“Policy approaches vary substantially across Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, but at present there is no clear evidence on how these differing energy efficiency policies actually affect these groups, and whether policy outcomes are consistent across the UK.” 

Dr Mark Bevan, of CHP, added: “We shall draw on concepts of justice to investigate the implications of existing domestic energy efficiency policies across the four nations of the UK.”

The researchers will work with the Association for the Conservation of Energy, The Children's Society, and Disability Rights UK and they will showcase their findings at an event in Parliament. They will also hold a variety of practitioner workshops to discuss the findings with people working in the sector, as well as co-producing a practical guide to energy efficiency and justice. 

Further information:

  • For more information about the UK Energy Research Centre, please visit:
  • For more information on the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York, please visit:
  • For more information on the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York, please visit:
  • The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems. UKERC acts a focal point for UK energy research and a gateway between the UK and the international energy research communities. Our interdisciplinary, whole systems research informs UK policy development and strategies of public, private and third sector organisations. UKERC is funded by The Research Councils UK Energy

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