It’s London Flood Awareness Week from 12th – 18th November. The GLA have kindly provided us with this blog posting to give those working with London residents insights into how to prepare for and respond to flooding:
Did you know that 1.3 million people are living and working in areas of the city at risk of tidal and river flooding? How about that around a third of London’s basement properties are at risk of flooding in a severe storm?
These are big numbers. Thanks to London’s extensive flood defence system, including the iconic Thames Barrier, London is well protected against tidal and river flooding. But we cannot prevent all flooding.
There can still be flooding from unpredictable sources, such as heavy rainfall. Unfortunately, these can happen anywhere, at any time. And they can have disproportionate effects on people who are least able to cope with flooding, such as the elderly, those on low incomes, and large families.
Whether it’s losing precious photographs, or having to replace furniture or important documents, flood damage can cost people a lot of money and take a long time to recover from. It can also have long-term mental health impacts.
That’s why the Mayor of London, the Environment Agency, London Resilience and Thames Water are working together to help Londoners better understand their risk of flooding, as well as the actions they can take to help protect themselves, their loved ones and their belongings from flooding. The campaign will run between Monday 12th and Sunday 18th November.
There are lots of quick and simple things you can do now to help prepare for flooding. For example, you can:
- check your risk of flooding from heavy rainfall, rivers and the tidal Thames by typing your address into the Environment Agency’s flood risk checker
- sign up for severe weather alerts from the Met Office
- put your precious and important belongings somewhere safe, like a high shelf or in a waterproof container
- prepare an emergency bag with the things you’ll need if you have to leave your home, such as medicine and important documents
- create a personal flood plan
- get to know your community better so that you can help others who might need assistance
To find out more about how to prepare for flooding, check out the campaign’s webpage www.london.gov.uk/flood-aware.
The Mayor of London has launched a new grant funding scheme to help Londoners in or at risk of fuel poverty to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
The Warmer Homes fund offers grants of up to £4,000 for measures including:
- boiler replacement or repair
- improved heating controls and heating systems
- insulation for walls, roofs and floors
- window upgrades
For possibly the first time ever, there will also be funding available for ventilation, to make sure that homes benefiting from new insulation don’t have adverse problems with damp or condensation.
The scheme is aimed at owner occupiers anywhere in London, on any of the following benefits:
- Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- State Pension Credit (In receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit or
both Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit)
- Tax Credits or Universal Credit subject to income thresholds (see Appendix 1 here)
If your local authority is part of the Energy Companies Obligation Flexible Eligibility Scheme, householders may qualify even if they are not on one of the above benefits. This applies to:
- Barking and Dagenham
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Waltham Forest
The aim is to help 1000 households in London in the next 12 months.
Note that the application process is online only, so you may need to provide additional support to householders who are digitally excluded to help them with this process.
Calling all community organisations!!
The application window is now open for the Mayor’s London Community Energy Fund. Phase one of the fund offers grants of up to £15,000 that can be used to support the development stages of community solar projects.
Details can be found at www.london.gov.uk/community-energy-fund
Community energy represents a great way of bringing clean energy, good advice, local employment and social gain to neighbourhoods. There are some great examples of community energy organisations already operating in London – Repowering and South East London Community Energy spring to mind. SELCE in particular has a commitment to use the income generated by solar energy projects to support those vulnerable to fuel poverty in their local area.
You can find out more about what’s involved with setting up a community energy project at http://hub.communityenergyengland.org/, a great resource that SE2 helped to develop with Community Energy England, Project Dirt and the Energy Saving Trust.
The Mayor of London has published a draft Fuel Poverty Action Plan – and is looking for your comments.
More than 355,000 households in London are in fuel poverty, with many more struggling at the margins to pay their energy bills and live comfortably in their homes. Between 2013 and 2014, 69% of the national increase in fuel poverty occurred in London. Given that people in the capital tend to live in smaller properties and that London has warmer winter weather than much of the country, this suggests that there are a range of financial and social issues at play, particularly related to the wider cost of living in London, rising energy prices and stagnating incomes.
The new Fuel Poverty Action Plan sets out very practical and welcome steps that the Mayor and the GLA plan to take to alleviate fuel poverty. You can read the document at https://www.london.gov.uk/WHAT-WE-DO/environment/environment-publications/draft-fuel-poverty-action-plan
Comments are welcomed until 17 November – so be sure to have your say!
Age UK Merton operate a Handyperson Service that can help with minor repairs and odd jobs around the home, and there are several befriending schemes available also. London Borough of Merton residents have an opportunity to get a better deal on gas and electricity bills as part of The Big London Energy Switch. The Big London Energy Switch is a collective energy switching auction that aims to help you lower your energy bills. Anyone who pays a household energy bill can take part, including tenants.
For a full list of the services available in Merton, including eligibility criteria, please see below.
Borough website: www.merton.gov.uk
The Big London Energy Switch
You can sign up online, below, or contact 020 8274 4901 to register.
Age UK Merton Handyperson Service
For minor repairs and odd jobs in and around the home.
For those aged 50+ and living the borough.
- Change light bulbs, fit time switches
- Fit curtain rails, take down and put up curtains
There is no call out charge, but there is a charge of £15-25 up to an hour depending on the work required, plus materials.
Call Paula on 020 8648 5792, Mon-Fri 9am-1pm
Home from Home Scheme
Befriending scheme for adults with learning disabilities.
Contact social worker and ask for a Home from Home friend; or contact the Duty Officer for Learning Disability Services: 020 8545 4529
MASCOT Telecare and Community Support Services
Any person who is vulnerable will qualify: people of retirement age or with a physical or learning disability. Also those who may need telecare for home safety or personal security.
There is a monthly charge for the service, but those who may find it difficult to pay may be eligible for help with the cost.
020 8274 5940
SEB Campaign (Seek, Embrace, Befriend)
A befriending and support service run via Sacred Heart Wimbledon, for families with special needs/ disabled children.
Contact Anna Selo: 020 8395 9152
For a list of the services available in Merton by tenure, please see the borough pdf below.
The GLA ‘Better Boilers’ scheme has launched this week.
From the GLA: “The pilot scheme will help up to 500 fuel poor homeowners in London to keep warm this winter by replacing or repairing, inefficient or broken boilers with A-rated ultra-low emission appliances and new heating controls.
To be eligible applicants must:
- be a homeowner in London
- be in receipt of qualifying benefits
- have an inefficient or broken boiler.
People can apply from today. All you need to know is on the website.
If you do, we want to hear from you!!
The Health of the Nation: analysis of cost effectiveness and success factors in health-related fuel poverty schemes
SE2 Ltd and Lewisham Council are carrying out a research project to look at the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of fuel poverty referral schemes across the country. The research is funded by Eaga Charitable Trust.
There is significant evidence about the link between fuel poverty and health. However, there has been little research into the most effective ways to develop and deliver fuel poverty referral schemes.
“The Health of the Nation” research project will explore many aspects of fuel poverty schemes – from their objectives, to how they target support, to the services they provide, to their use of referral networks, to their costs – to try and tease out factors which make schemes more likely to operate successfully and to deliver value for money.
We are interested in hearing from people and organisations who make referrals into local fuel poverty schemes. We invite you to take part in our online survey. You can find the survey at:
The survey should take about 30 minutes to complete. We are happy for you to provide information in other formats (eg, reporting spreadsheets) if it is easier for you.
The survey will be open until Friday 11 November 2016.
If you’d like to know more about the research, or submit information in another format, please contact Liz Warren on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8469 1333.
Ofgem today announced a package of measures designed to bring down fuel bills for people on pre-payment meters and on expensive out-of-date tariffs.
So what’s the deal? (more…)
Fuel poverty research presented to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change by Mari Martiskainen
2.35 million households in England living in poor quality, energy inefficient housing have to decide each winter whether to ‘eat or heat’. They live in cold homes because they can’t afford to pay their fuel bills and then suffer from respiratory illnesses which have long-term effects on their health and wellbeing, and sometimes fatal consequences. Last year, England and Wales experienced the highest number of ‘excess winter deaths’ in fifteen years, with 43,900 dying – 27% more than during the non-winter months.
It’s an urgent issue that needs solutions. A workshop on Community Solutions to Fuel Poverty was held on 13th May in Hastings – an area badly affected by fuel poverty – and was attended by a mix of stakeholders, including local government, community groups, academics, energy utilities, as well as the local MP, RT Hon Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. The aim of the workshop was to bring together a range of expertise in fuel poverty work and present concrete policy recommendations to the Secretary of State.
Dr Brenda Boardman spoke about the challenges of identifying those who live in fuel poverty at the workshop, which was organised by non-profit organisation Energise Sussex Coast. Boardman, who envisaged the concept of fuel poverty 25 years ago while doing her PhD at SPRU, said many fuel poor are ‘hidden’. They might not want to seek help due to the stigma attached to being fuel poor or don’t know how to seek help, or they are ‘chaotic’ people who face a myriad of problems, of which fuel poverty is only one.
The Secretary of State said that “addressing climate change addresses fuel poverty”. Rudd said the government was working with The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to provide guidelines on how to deal with fuel poverty and highlighted the importance of working with local GPs and local councils, especially in focusing government funding on the most cost-effective way to help those living in fuel poverty.
I later asked the Secretary of State what the government was doing in order to better identify those who might be vulnerable to fuel poverty and Rudd responded that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was working with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to see if data sharing between the two departments was possible, although she provided no further details on whether and how that might be done. However, as Boardman previously highlighted, with 20% of those people living in fuel poverty not claiming any benefits, identifying the fuel poor via data on those receiving benefits would mean that some people wouldn’t be identified and reached.
One of the issues discussed widely in the workshop was the private rented sector and how, despite landlords’ obligation to pay for energy efficiency measures, many tenants end up living in very poor housing conditions.
A key policy recommendation made to the Secretary of State was the need to invest in better quality, energy efficient housing across all housing tenures, including owner-occupied as well as the private and social rented sectors. An area-based, street-by-street approach was suggested to address the energy efficiency of housing.
Rudd said that the government was continuing to work with landlords on addressing the issue. The Secretary of State also stressed that any energy efficiency works undertaken in people’s homes should be to a good standard. She also said that the government’s review by Dr Peter Bonfield on consumer advice, protection, standards and enforcement for energy efficiency and renewable energy was due to report soon, with details on how these standards would potentially be enforced.
At present funding, albeit limited, is channeled to fuel poverty work via energy utilities in the form of the Energy Company Obligation. However attendees at the workshop thought that local authorities would be better placed to deal with fuel poverty. This would also help to frame fuel poverty not just as an energy, or carbon issue, but also a social and health issue. Enabling local authorities to work closer together with community groups and health authorities would provide a better targeted service to those faced with fuel poverty. This would, however, require on-going funding and data sharing between different authorities, which is a contested and difficult area to address.
Our research in this area could help. We found that community-led ‘energy shops’ could act as a triage service bringing together local authorities, community groups and the health service to assess the needs of each client and then refer them to other forms of intervention depending on needs.
It remains to be seen whether and how the final and formal policy recommendations from the workshop will be listened to. At the workshop the Secretary of State struggled to remember how many people the government had lifted out of fuel poverty. While this might have been a temporary oversight, the fact that energy efficiency does not feature prominently in Lord Adonis’ National Infrastructure Commission is not.
Much remains to be done. As Dr Mary Gillie from Energy Local pointed out, we are one of the wealthiest nations in the world and yet fuel poverty, which kills people every year, is allowed to persist.
Dr Mari Martiskainen is a Research Fellow at the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand based at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU). Mari has worked on a range of research projects including topics such as building energy efficiency policies, innovation processes linked to community energy, influences on household energy consumption and the diffusion of small scale renewable energy technologies.
This blog was originally posted on The University of Sussex website.
National Energy Action and Energy Action Scotland recently published their Fuel Poverty Monitor, a “state of the nations” report on fuel poverty across the UK and in each individual country.
It doesn’t make for cheerful reading. Here’s a quote: