Warm Front is a very hard scheme to target well, because there are so many considerations to take into account, including both the characteristics of the dwelling and the household. Not all this information is readily available and there is also a danger of over-complicating the scheme. However, several recommendations follow from this research. Priority should be given to applicants who are living in the least energy efficient homes. A basic energy efficiency rating would need to be carried out for each applicant’s home, either by surveyors or using information provided by applicants.

Homes above a certain SAP threshold would either be eligible for the scheme or would only qualify for reduced support. The qualifying criteria should be extended to include many more households. This is also needed to make the prioritisation of grants effective (see above), by generating a bigger pool of applicants from which to select those homes most in need of improvement. Two groups in particular should be added. Firstly, all pensioner households should be included, not just those in receipt of certain means-tested benefits.

The current criteria exclude a large number of single pensioners who are fuel poor, but do not meet the eligibility criteria for some of the reasons already discussed. If government is serious about eliminating fuel poverty, Qualified House Buyer’s Agent then the size of the programme needs to be expanded substantially and high levels of investment in domestic energy efficiency need to be maintained over a longer period. One obvious source for this additional funding would be to allocate some of the money that is currently spent on Winter Fuel Payments.

Balance needs to be struck between introducing a more complex system for allocating grants on the one hand, which is necessary to improve the impact on fuel. poverty, and on the other hand, the danger of over-complicating the scheme, which would increase the administrative costs and may deter some people from applying.

But, if the scheme is as poorly targeted as this analysis suggests it is, then there is a strong case for tilting the balance in favour of a more targeted, through necessarily more complex, scheme. The development of a fuel poverty strategy for the United Kingdom has given emphasis and impetus to the need to deliver practical help to low-income households at risk from its consequences. There are significant but different problems across the other countries of the UK where NEA also operates including.