Fuel Poverty and the Just Transition

The Fuel Poverty and Just Transition Project has been established to provide a long-term framework for addressing fuel poverty in Northern Ireland. It will take an all-of-government approach to addressing fuel poverty and its impacts.

Fuel Poverty Strategy

In line with our commitment to the Department’s five-year strategy- ‘Building Inclusive Communities’ and its key themes of Anti-Poverty, Wellbeing & Inclusion, Sustainability & Inclusive Growth, we are now developing a new Fuel Poverty Strategy. This also reflects commitments within the draft Housing Supply Strategy as well as the Executive’s Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland.

The new Strategy will recognise our responsibilities under the Climate Change Act (NI) 2022 and focus on ensuring a Just Transition for the residential sector. 

Background to fuel poverty

The extant Fuel Poverty Strategy was published in 2011. Since then, there has been substantial change in the policy and regulatory environment, in addition to wider macroeconomic factors such as an uncertain economic picture and increasing fuel prices. Fuel poverty levels in Northern Ireland rose from 18% in 2018 to 24% in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the date of our most recent official statistics. However, we understand that the picture of energy affordability is both complex and, in recent years, increasingly volatile.

With the introduction of Northern Ireland’s first Climate Change legislation Departments must publish plans that demonstrate how new and binding carbon emission reduction targets will be met. The Climate Change (Northern Ireland) Act also contains the requirement to support those who are most affected by climate change and may be the least equipped to adapt to its effects or may stand to lose out economically (Just Transition).

Responsibility for key components of fuel poverty lies across DAERA, DfE, DoF and TEO and cuts across a number of business areas within DfC. In addition, fuel poverty impacts health and educational outcomes and is therefore relevant to the Department of Health and the Department for Education.

The Strategy will be informed by the Climate Action Plan, Energy Strategy, draft Housing Supply Strategy, draft Green Growth Strategy and draft Anti-Poverty Strategy, among others. We are committed to working with a wide range of partners. 


Alleviating fuel poverty will have a positive impact on both mental and physical health, especially for more vulnerable populations. In addition, making our homes more sustainable and easier to heat will help fight climate change and will lead to a more Just Transition.

The Strategy will be developed according to the following principles:

  • it will be a high-level strategic document and accompanying action plan
  • it will provide the long-term basis for addressing fuel poverty;
  • close engagement and consultation with those with a strong interest and influence on fuel poverty policy and delivery
  • progressed with senior representation from across key Departments and sectors at project board level

The Strategy will examine issues relevant to fuel poverty such as its definition, how government supports those living in or at risk of fuel poverty and consumer protection through the energy transition.  This will be considered in the context of carbon reduction targets, health outcomes and policy responsibilities across government.

High level timeline

The five stages of the development of the Fuel Poverty and Just Transition strategy are as follows:

Stage Timeline
Stage 1 - Evidence gathering and design April - December 2023
Stage 2 - Intensive stakeholder engagement period / data synthesis January - June 2024
Stage 3 - Triangulation of evidence/policy options July - September 2024
Stage 4 - Public consultation October - December 2024
Stage 5 - Finalisation and approval January - May 2025

Fuel Poverty and Just Transition - in collaboration

To assist in the development of a Fuel Poverty Strategy, we are engaging with and bringing together people from a wide range of organisations, drawing on collective experiences, understanding key priorities, listening to ideas and opinions to help us to shape a future strategy that will alleviate fuel poverty and assist with meeting Net Zero targets while ensuring a Just Transition. 

We have developed the following key principles to support our work –

  • early and continuous engagement with a wide range of stakeholders at all stages of Strategy development
  • collaboration with partners when possible
  • be conscious of the burden on stakeholders - Utilise existing communications channels and consider scheduling around or potential collaboration with related consultations or events to minimise burden on consultees
  • feedback-feed-forward
  • utilise best practice to ensure meaningful stakeholder engagement

Reference panel

We are working closely with a reference panel comprising a range of sectoral interests, drawing on their experience, expertise, and knowledge, and together explore a range of insights and ideas in the design of new approaches.

Reference Panel members are:

Name Organisation
Angus Kerr Director, Climate Change Division, DfC (Chair)
Meabh Cormacain SIB Strategic Advisor, Climate Change Division, DfC
Una McConnell Climate Change Division, DfC
Paul McKenzie Lecturer, University of Ulster
Alan Mitchell Fermanagh & Omagh District Council
Alex Tennant Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People
Pat Austin National Energy Action
Celeste McCallion Principal Statistician, DfC
Graham Smith Consumer Council NI
Wilma Stewart Age NI
Nuala Toman Head of Innovation & Impact, Disability Action
Justina Corcoran Dept of Energy, Climate and Communications, RoI
Nigel Brady Bryson Energy
Siobhán Harding Women’s Resource Network
Lucie Middlemiss Professor of Environment and Society, University of Leeds
Tracey Colgan Public Health Agency

Next stages 

We have just finished stage 2 of intensive stakeholder engagement period/data synthesis of the strategy. We have concluded all of our workshops and you can find the overview from each of the topics on eligibility, collaboration and partnership, and understanding and framing here.

We are now entering stage 3 now where will we take all of our findings from the workshops and focus groups and make policy decisions based on the evidence. We will have consultation document ready for Autumn 2024 for the beginning of the public consultation stage. 


If you have any queries on the Fuel Poverty Strategy, please contact Michael Clarke at fuelpovertystrategy@communities-ni.gov.uk

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