Mapping socio-spatial vulnerability to fuel poverty: The development of a Geographically Weighted Vulnerability Index

Authors: Caitlin Robinson*, The University of Manchester
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Energy, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Socio-spatial vulnerability, fuel poverty, vulnerability index, Geographically Weighted Principal Component Analysis
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bacchus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Fuel poverty is a unique form of deprivation, concerned with an inability to access sufficient domestic energy services (Buzar 2007), that has negative impacts upon wellbeing (Liddell and Morris 2010). Recently, the concept of socio-spatial vulnerability has highlighted the multi-dimensionality of the drivers of fuel poverty, and how they are geographically variable and locally contingent (Bouzarovski 2014). However, efforts to measure fuel poverty have primarily focused upon narrow, expenditure-based metrics (Hills 2012), or upon area-based targeting of fuel poor households that is not spatial per se (Fahmy et al. 2011) as the relative importance of the factors that drive fuel poverty in each small area does not vary to reflect localised challenges (Robinson et al. 2017). Building upon the established research tradition of deriving a social vulnerability index (Cutter et al. 2003), and upon significant advancements in spatially-constituted methodologies, the aim of this paper is to explore the socio-spatial distribution of vulnerability to fuel poverty, using a case study of England (UK). Geographically Weighted Principal Component Analysis (Harris et al. 2011) is applied to a suite of neighbourhood-scale indicators to highlight the diverse vulnerability factors that increase the likelihood of fuel poverty manifesting in different locales. This approach offers a unique opportunity for the index to be explicitly spatial, addressing common criticisms of previous vulnerability assessments (Frazier et al. 2014). The analysis succeeds in making visible the diverse geographies associated with vulnerability to fuel poverty, especially those that are often ‘hidden’ when policy-makers and practitioners tackle this form of deprivation.

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