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Aiming high: an evaluation of the potential contribution of Warm Front towards meeting the Government’s fuel poverty target in England

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Following the implementation of the government’s fuel poverty strategy in 2001, Warm Front is expected to make a substantial contribution to reducing the number of fuel poor households – those unable to afford to heat their homes adequately. This report focuses on the targeting of the scheme in England and how this might be modified to help achieve the government’s target of eliminating fuel poverty among vulnerable households by 2010, based largely on the recommendations in a recent National Audit Office report on Warm Front, which highlighted the relatively small overlap between eligibility for the scheme and fuel poverty. This is a forward-looking piece of research and, as such, is not intended to be critical of the way the scheme has operated to date. Warm Front, like its predecessor the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, was not originally designed to alleviate fuel poverty but to improve the energy efficiency of homes occupied by vulnerable households – those containing pensioners, children, and/or someone with a long-standing illness or disability. By this yardstick, the scheme has been a success - up to February 2004, approximately 770,000 vulnerable households had received a Warm Front grant, worth an average of £445 (in 2002) and saving each of these households up to £150 a year on their fuel bills. Whilst it would be unfair to evaluate the past performance of this scheme against an objective that it was not set up to achieve, it is reasonable to ask how far the current scheme is likely to contribute towards meeting a new or modified objective in future (i.e. the reduction of fuel poverty) and what changes could be made to increase this impact. The report examines the characteristics of Warm Front recipients; estimates the impact of the current scheme on fuel poverty, as officially defined; models the likely effectiveness of various options for redesigning Warm Front in terms of their impact on fuel poverty; and explores the extent of and implications of ‘churn’.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28322/1/CASEreport28.pdf

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