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Transport poverty and fuel poverty in the UK: From analogy to comparison

Giulio Mattioli, Karen Lucas and Greg Marsden

Transport Policy, 2017, vol. 59, issue C, 93-105

Abstract: The notion of ‘fuel poverty’, referring to affordable warmth, underpins established research and policy agendas in the UK and has been extremely influential worldwide. In this context, British researchers, official policymaking bodies and NGOs have put forward the notion of ‘transport poverty’, building on an implicit analogy between (recognised) fuel poverty and (neglected) transport affordability issues. However, the conceptual similarities and differences between 'fuel' and 'transport' poverty remain largely unaddressed in the UK. This paper systematically compares and contrasts the two concepts, examining critically the assumption of a simple equivalence between them. We illustrate similarities and differences under four headings: (i) negative consequences of lack of warmth and lack of access; (ii) drivers of fuel and transport poverty; (iii) definition and measurement; (iv) policy interventions. Our review suggests that there are important conceptual and practical differences between transport and domestic energy consumption, with crucial consequences for how affordability problems amongst households are to be conceptualised and addressed. In a context where transport and energy exhibit two parallel policy worlds, the analysis in the paper and these conclusions reinforce how and why these differences matter. As we embark on an ever closer union between our domestic energy and transport energy systems the importance of these contradictions will become increasingly evident and problematic. This work contributes to the long-term debate about how best to manage these issues in a radical energy transition that properly pays attention to issues of equity and affordability.

Keywords: Fuel poverty; Transport affordability; UK; Energy; Social exclusion; Indicators (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:93-105