Being Warm – Being Happy: Understanding Disability Fuel Poverty and Energy Vulnerability for Adults with a Learning Disability (AWLD)

Start Date: October 2017
Completion Date: March 2019
Grant Holder: University of Sheffield
Main Contact: Professor Angela Tod, Professor of Older People & Care, School of Nursing & Midwifery


There is very little evidence of the nature and extent of fuel poverty in adults with a learning disability (AWLD). This mixed-method study seeks to address that gap.


To understand and characterize fuel poverty and energy vulnerability from the perspective of AWLD.


  1. To conduct interviews to understand the experience and risks of fuel poverty from the perspective of AWLD.
  2. To compare the rates of FP in households in which AWLD reside relative to households in which adults with other forms of disability reside and the general adult population.
  3. To identify the implications for policy and practice through consultation and co-production.

Full report

Research summary

Reaching fuel poor families: informing new approaches to promoting take-up of fuel poverty assistance among families with children

Start Date April 2014
Completion Date September 2014
Grant Holders: The Children’s Centre and the Association for the Conservation of Energy
Main Contact Sarah Royston, Association for the Conservation of Energy


‘Reaching fuel poor families: informing new approaches to promoting take-up of fuel poverty assistance among families with children’ is a collaborative project between The Children’s Society and the Association for the Conservation of Energy ACE).  It aims to review a range of fuel poverty schemes aimed at families, and conduct an in-depth evaluation of one specific scheme based in a children’s centre run by The Children’s Society. It will provide recommendations that will be implemented in this scheme, and inform a potential roll-out to other centres in future. It will also draw lessons of broader relevance to fuel poverty schemes aimed at families.

Full project report, report to Mortimer House Children’s Centre, delivery guide, policy briefing and research summary:

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Download Reaching Fuel Poor Families – Full Research Report
Download Reaching Fuel Poor Families – Report to Mortimer House

Fuel Poverty and disabled people: the impact of policy change

Start Date September 2012
Completion Date August 2013
Grant Holders: Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York
Main Contact Dr Carolyn Snell


At present there is a limited and fragmented evidence base surrounding the relationship between disability and fuel poverty, and policy is changing rapidly. This project has three key aims: firstly, to consolidate existing knowledge and understanding in the field; secondly, to conduct empirical work that will help to understand different dimensions of disability and fuel poverty in depth; and thirdly, to consider and assess the impact of policy changes on disabled people. Ultimately, the project will make policy recommendations that can be made to alleviate any negative or unintended consequences of policy changes.

Poster presentation of the research.

Final report, annexes and research summary. Joint research summary with the project ‘The Energy Penalty: disability and fuel poverty’

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Download York Leicester research summary

The Energy Penalty: disability and fuel poverty

Start Date July 2012
Completion Date February 2013
Grant Holders: Centre for Consumers and Essential Services, University of Leicester
Main Contact Professor Cosmo Graham


Many disabled people are at high risk of fuel poverty, with potentially serious health consequences. This project will explore the many and varied circumstances and range of needs which impact on disabled people and households in relation to energy, including factors relating to high essential usage and affordability. It will also highlight the likely implications for disabled people of the benefit changes which are taking place in relation to fuel poverty. The project will aim to challenge decision-makers and energy suppliers to improve policies and practices to ensure that they better meet the energy needs of disabled individuals and households.

Full and summary research report: 

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Needs of vulnerable consumers who face multiple barriers

Start Date October 2010
Completion Date November 2011
Grant Holders: Centre for Consumers and Essential Services, University of Leicester
Main Contact Professor Cosmo Graham


Given the essential nature of energy services for people’s health, safety and well-being, it is vitally important that they are easily able to access information, advice, and assistance to ensure that their needs are met regarding these services.  There is, however, evidence that many people in vulnerable circumstances face multiple barriers and that the responses of policy-makers and suppliers inadequately reflect the varied nature of people’s needs.  This project aims to present a reliable account of the nature and range of needs of people in vulnerable circumstances, and about the barriers to obtaining information, advice and assistance in dealing with energy suppliers and in obtaining help with other relevant services.  A key objective is to achieve a better understanding of consumer vulnerability, and to make practical recommendations to help improve policies and practices.

Full report and research summary

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Winter Warmer Project

Start Date October 2010
Completion Date January 2012
Grant Holders: Generate Opportunities
Main Contact Jane Pettingell, Chief Executive


This project aims to establish the extent to which people with a learning disability living in their own homes manage decisions with regard to the use and cost of heating. We will examine the definition of ‘fuel poverty’ particularly if disability benefits are disregarded as income and the extent to which heating bills contribute to debt. We will explore current available advice that might be understood by people in this group and seek to draw conclusions about the styles of support and advice that enhance understanding and support changes that improve budgeting and decision making in relation to fuel expenses.

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Energy – Save It

Start Date March 2008
Completion Date November 2008
Grant Holders: Leeds Animation Workshop
Main Contact Terry Wragg


This project centres on the production and distribution of a short DVD resource designed for people with learning disabilities and other vulnerable consumers who are, or are preparing to be, tenants or householders. Leeds Animation Workshop, a not-for-profit cooperative, will be working in collaboration with Mencap, CHANGE and other appropriate organisations including energy experts.

The animated DVD is 5 to 6 minutes long. It aims to reduce carbon emissions, to help people with learning disabilities and other vulnerable consumers save energy and benefit from lower fuel bills and to help them understand the connection between fossil fuel use and climate change.

Copies of the DVD are available for purchase by contacting Leeds Animation: email

DVD produced in 2008

Final report and synopsis of final report

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Start Date November 2008
Completion Date September 2009
Grant Holders: Church Action on Poverty
Main Contact Liam Purcell Email


Thrive is an initiative of Church Action on Poverty, working in the borough of Stockton-on-Tees. It carries out unique action research and develops innovative solutions to poverty and exclusion. This new Thrive programme builds on our existing body of action research but focuses on financial inclusion. Our unique approach will enable us to identify the personal priorities of vulnerable consumers, and empower them to work together with service providers to develop effective systems and services. Research findings and innovative new models will be shared nationally through a major publication, as well as through Church Action on Poverty’s networks and partner agencies.

Full report and project summary

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The dynamics of bad housing on the living standards of children – evidence from the Families and Children Study (FACS)

Start Date April 2007
Completion Date August 2008
Grant Holders: National Centre for Social Research
Main Contact Matt Barnes


A gathering body of evidence points to poor housing as a key driver of poverty and social exclusion and the debilitating effect overcrowding and poor housing conditions can have on children’s education, health and development. This project will use longitudinal data from a unique study of families with children to investigate the persistence and recurrence of bad housing over time and the impact of living in bad housing on children’s living standards.

The findings will be used to discuss the needs of families with children living in bad housing and the implications for policies designed to improve the outcomes of children in these families.

Full report and summary report

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Seasonal cold, thermal behaviour and temperature distributions in the homes of older people

Start Date October 2002
Completion Date June 2003
Grant Holders: University of Teesside, School of Health and Social Care
Main Contact Dr James Goodwin, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Teesside, School of Health and Social Care


The project aims to investigate the relationship between the thermal behaviour of older people, the thermal gradients within the home and outside winter cold. Its objectives are:

  • To examine the extent to which the activities of daily living of older people is related to indoor and outdoor winter cold
  • To provide data for further studies into the risks of indoor and outdoor cold on the health of older people
  • To provide data which will help to inform a health promotion message enabling the more healthy heating of homes, improvements in the degree to which older people are exposed to the cold and a reduction in the large numbers of excess winter deaths amongst older people.

Final report

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