London Fuel Poverty Hub

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Are we missing an opportunity to transform the private rented sector?

As well as its Fuel Poverty Strategy consultation, DECC recently published a consultation on introducing new energy efficiency regulations to the private rented sector.

We were as delighted as this kitten at tHappyCathe prospect of these regulations. The private rented sector is growing rapidly and has very few effective controls on housing quality or energy efficiency. A set of regulations that would drive change would be very welcome, particularly for the more than 1 million fuel poor households living in the sector.

So what does the consultation say?

The two big headlines:

  • Minimum energy efficiency standards will be in force from April 2018.
  • And tenants will have a right to request energy efficiency improvements which can’t be reasonably refused by their landlord. That comes in from April 2016.

Let’s dig a little deeper: (more…)

Have your say on the Fuel Poverty Strategy Consultation

We blogged recently about the new Fuel Poverty Strategy Consultation. Now you can have your say!

NEA are running a series of six free seminars during September and October, to give people a chance to hear from DECC about thinking on fuel poverty, to share best practice and to contribute to the development of the strategy.

There’s more information and a booking form at http://www.nea.org.uk/campaigns-events/fp-strategy-seminars.

The London seminar will be held on the morning of Thursday 4 September. If you can’t make that, then there will be a session in Peterborough on 11 September (other sessions are a bit further afield but are listed on the website).

This sounds like a great opportunity to get under the skin of the Fuel Poverty Strategy consultation and make sure your voice – and the voices of those you represent – are heard in this important policy area.

 

Thoughts on the new Fuel Poverty Strategy consultation

The Government published its Fuel Poverty Strategy Consultation on 21 July and it makes for interesting reading. There are new definitions, new targets, new demographics of those in fuel poverty – but no new programmes, yet… Our summary of the consultation document follows – peppered with things we like, things we question and a handful of things we’re really not sure about. Have a read and let us know what you think!

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Up to £5K grants available for local fuel poverty work

Good news! DECC has made £1million available for grants to community organisations, charities, faith groups and social landlords for local fuel poverty projects which engage hard-to-reach householders.

Grants of up to £5,000 are available; a helpful amount for carrying out outreach events, setting up local fuel poverty centres or surgeries or building local links and partnerships. Note the deadline though: the closing date is Friday 8 August!

Find out more, and download the application form from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/1million-energy-advice-programme-opens-for-business.

Good luck!

Warm Home Discount – apply for broader group discount now!

Customers on low incomes may be eligible for a discount on their energy bills, known as the Warm Home Discount. This year, it’s worth £140.

Some customers are automatically eligible (those on the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit).

Other customers have to apply to their electricity company for the Discount – and the application period is now open. There is only limited funding available, so it is a first come, first served system. Some energy suppliers are already reporting that they have allocated most of their funds.

You don’t have to be on Pension Credit to get access to the Discount. Working age households, those with young children, and those with disabilities or other vulnerabilities may also be eligible.

The DECC website has a link to all of the energy suppliers that offer the Discount. Scroll down to the Energy Suppliers section at:

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/eligibility

If you know anyone who is on a low income or struggling with their energy bills, you should recommend that they call their electricity company. Remember it’s their current electricity supplier that gives them the discount – so you shouldn’t call their gas supplier. And note that each electricity company has its own eligibility criteria – some people have switched suppliers to get access to the discount.

The most important thing: ACT FAST! We can really help London’s poorest households, but we need to spread the word!

 

NICE work: consultation to help place cold at the heart of health and social care

NICE logoThe National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a draft guideline on preventing Excess Winter Deaths and Morbidity and Health Risks associated with cold homes. The document is designed for “commissioners and practitioners”, including health and social care professionals (particularly Health and Wellbeing Boards and those working directly with people at risk from the cold), local authorities, installers, the energy efficiency industry and the voluntary sector. It lays out a set of recommendations for all of these actors.

The business end first: the guideline is out for consultation, with a closing date of 25 July. You can download the draft guideline, a wealth of supporting evidence and the form for consultation responses at http://guidance.nice.org.uk/PHG/70/Consultation/Latest.

The guideline has some great background information about the impacts of living in cold homes, and is well worth a read if you’re looking to gather statistics or to make the case for warmth. It also makes a number of recommendations; these are listed in bold below, with some thoughts from a London-wide perspective:

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A whistlestop tour of DECC’s Fuel Poverty Trends

Yesterday, DECC published their Fuel Poverty Statistics covering 2012: there was a lot of media coverage and response (here’s the Telegraph article, and here’s the Independent, and here’s what the Energy Bill Revolution had to say). You can download the DECC statistics here.

Along with the general statistics, DECC published data on Fuel Poverty Trends for 2003-12, and we thought we should explore these a little, to see how the world has changed.

(more…)

Towards a Fuel Poverty Strategy – Insights from the North West

fuel-poverty-gap-graph1

The Government’s Fuel Poverty Strategy is due out for consultation very shortly. As part of the discussion at the Carbon Action Network Training Day in Manchester recently, local authorities, housing providers, energy advisors and others discussed the potential impact of the new strategy, based on the approach laid out in DECC’s Framework for Future Action on Fuel Poverty. You can read a full write-up of discussions here.

Below, we have summarised a few of the key points raised:

  •  The Low Income High Costs definition is not yet in use at a local level, and many delivery organisations are struggling to explain it to senior decision makers and to translate it into strategies for targeting at a local level
  • The reduction in the number of fuel poor households brought about by the change of definition means that fuel poverty might be seen as less of an issue in some places
  • The various obligations, incentives, rebates and policies are complex to navigate; changes to them, announced in a hurry, have a damaging effect on people’s ability to deliver fuel poverty interventions locally
  • There are some great examples of data sharing, wider engagement (eg, with CCGs), partnerships and outreach, but it’s still hard for organisations to find out what others are doing and to translate that work into their own organisation.

Many of the discussion points from the Manchester Conference apply equally to local authorities, housing providers and others in London. We’d be keen to hear from you about how your organisation will be responding, particularly to the change in definition and how you might target fuel poverty activities differently in future. Get in touch: @LDNFuelPoverty or londonfuelpovertyhub@se-2.co.uk.

Healthy Places Fuel Poverty & Health Toolkit

Established by the UK Health Forum, the Healthy Places website focuses on factors affecting public health that are new, interesting or often not fully understood or recognised. It provides a wealth of useful information and resources for health professionals, health and wellbeing boards and local authorities, and explains the operation of laws and potential policies that could enable or place limits on local government and community activity and affect the health of a community.

Key themes covered on the site include access to healthy food, alcohol control, enabling active travel and healthy housing. As part of the latter, they have a dedicated Fuel Poverty and Health Toolkit, which covers a range of resources including:

  • Case studies demonstrating the steps communities are already taking to tackle fuel poverty
  • Links to national reports and key websites that discuss the causes of fuel poverty and how best to tackle it
  • Up-to-date links to information on Government programmes such as ECO, the Winter Fuel Payment Scheme and the Warm Homes Discount.
  • National fuel poverty data and useful statistical sources for the UK, alongside further links to research, reports and data related to fuel poverty, cold homes and health

The toolkit also has a range of other useful links, including to resources for vulnerable individuals, energy efficiency information, and home improvement, energy savings and income maximization support. Why not take a look?

The UK Health Forum is an alliance of organisations, public health professionals and academics working to reduce the risk of avoidable, non-communicable disease at a local, national, regional and international level. You can find more information about their work here.

Fuel poverty workshop: Helping people to save energy and money at home

The London Fuel Poverty Hub

Fuel poverty workshop: Helping people to save energy and money at home

Wednesday 26th February, 2 – 5 pm

The Annexe, 5 Elthorne Road, Islington N19 4AB

On the 26th February we’re holding a free half day, practical training session to give charities, voluntary organisations and public sector representatives tips and resources to pass on to their residents and service users who are experiencing fuel poverty.

Get the information you need to help your clients with:

–      Tariffs, switching and dealing with fuel debt

–      Practical tips for saving energy in the home. There will also be demonstrations of basic draught-proofing/ damp-proofing measures and basic energy efficiency gadgets

–      Accessing government funding schemes as ECO and the Warm Homes Discount

If you’d like to attend, or for more information please email hannah@se-2.co.uk or call 020 8912 0444. You can download a flier for the event here – please spread the word to friends and colleagues!