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London Flood Awareness Week

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 arelondon flood -martin astrand 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.

 

 

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£2.5m Warmer Homes fund launched!

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
  • draught-proofing

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
  • Bexley
  • Camden
  • Croydon
  • Ealing
  • Enfield
  • Greenwich
  • Hackney
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Haringey
  • Hounslow
  • Islington
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Kingston
  • Lambeth
  • Lewisham
  • Merton
  • Waltham Forest

The aim is to help 1000 households in London in the next 12 months.

Full details are at https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/improving-quality/warmer-homes

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.

 

London Community Energy Fund

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.

 

 

Do you make referrals into a local fuel poverty scheme?

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:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WT25D3Q

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 liz.warren@se-2.co.uk or call 020 8469 1333.

A better deal for London’s fuel poor?

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…)

It’s National Fuel Poverty Awareness Day!

It’s National Fuel Poverty Awareness Day and in support of this SE2 have created this list of 13 interesting facts:

  1. Fuel poverty in England is measured by the Low Income High Costs definition, which considers a household to be in fuel poverty if ‘they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level) and were they to spend that amount they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line’.
  2. Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is the national day of action, raising awareness of the problems faced by low-income households. The initiative, coordinated by National Energy Action (NEA), falls at the end of its winter Warm Homes Campaign. The Home Heat Helplinesupports the initiative and will be working closely with the NEA on future campaigns.
  3. The Committee on Climate Change’s Fifth Carbon Budgetoutlined that fuel poverty has risen to 4.5 million households (2013) from 3.3 million (2007) and suggests that even with fully funded targeted action it could take around 15 years to return to the position we were in eight years ago.
  4. According to a recent reportpublished by ACE, cold homes are currently a bigger killer across the UK than road and rail accidents, alcohol or drug abuse.
  5. There are around 4 million children living in fuel poverty in England according to a new reportpublished by the National Children’s Bureau.
  6. The latest Excess Winter Mortality in England and Wales statistical bulletin released by the Office for National Statistics states ‘an estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2014/15. The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 and over; there were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group in 2014/15, compared with 7,700 in people aged under 75’.
  7. Citizens Advice have launched a price comparison toolto help consumers compare prices from different energy suppliers. If you’re considering switching, you may find these guides useful from Birmingham Citizens Advice  and Ofgem.
  8. New research reveals Newcastle and Glasgow are the warmest cities in the UK when it comes to being neighbourly, knowing on average five of their neighbours. Birmingham and London are the coldest, knowing an average of three people. These findings have been revealed as the Home Heat Helplinecalls on the nation to #SharetheWarmth, and think about whether a neighbour, friend or family member is at risk and could be eligible for support that will help them stay warm during Britain’s notoriously long winter.
  9. Fuel poverty affects residents even in more affluent areas. SE2have been working with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea since 2008 to tackle this by promoting the Healthy Homes initiative. The Council’s Healthy Homes hotlinehelps people who are having difficulty keeping their homes warm or keeping up with their energy bills.
  10. On Fuel Poverty Awareness Day the Home Heat Helpline is urging people to call 0800 33 66 99 to see if they may be eligible for help with their energy bills.
  11. Are you a London home owner or an accredited private landlord? You could get £400 from the mayor to replace your old boiler from the London Boiler Cashback scheme.
  12. You could be entitled to £140 off your electricity bill with the Warm Home Discount Scheme.See our pdf here for details of which suppliers are providing the scheme.
  13. And finally, here are a list of some of the events taking place in support of National Fuel Poverty Awareness day:

The Nation’s Biggest Housewarming – NEA

Fuel Poverty Summit – The Northants Warm Homes Partnership

West Midlands Fuel Poverty Forum

Free Drop in for residents – Knowsley Council

Healthy Warm Homes 2016 – Wigan Council

Tackling Fuel Poverty – Key Skills for Front Line Workers – SELCE

Fuel Poverty Advice Session – Local Solutions, Liverpool

Housewarming Advice Events – NE Lincolnshire Council

Get £400 cashback from the Mayor to replace your old boiler

  • Do you want to make big savings on your energy bills?
  • Do you have an old, inefficient boiler?
  • Are you a London home owner or an accredited private landlord?

If the answer to all these questions is yes, you could receive £400 towards the cost of upgrading to a new, high efficiency boiler from the Mayor’s new London Boiler Cashback Scheme.

The scheme – which launched on 2 February 2016 – is first-come, first-served. It’s going to be very popular, so apply soon to avoid disappointment.

Warm Home Discount: helping Londoners save £140 on their annual electricity bill

Download our list of Warm Home Discount suppliers’ phone numbers and websites  now.

What is the Warm Home Discount?

The Warm Home Discount provides a rebate on electricity bills for vulnerable and low income households. This year, it’s £140.

Even better news: the scheme has recently been extended to 2021, with the rebate amount rising each year, so Londoners can receive the rebate in the years to come as well.

The catch?

Not everyone qualifies for the Warm Home Discount, and many people will have to apply.

Who qualifies automatically?

People who receive Pension Credit Guarantee qualify automatically and should receive their rebate in the form of a discount off their electricity bill in February or March each year.

Who should apply?

Each electricity supplier has different criteria for their discount scheme. You can only apply to your current electricity supplier. People who are likely to be eligible are those on Pension Credit (Savings), those on low incomes, and those on means-tested benefits.

Who should I contact?

To make life easier, we have compiled a list of all the participating electricity suppliers, including their phone number and website address specifically for Warm Home Discount applications. You can download a PDF of the list here.

£26m funding for fuel poverty – better late than never!

thermal-image-cold-home-620pxNational Energy Action recently announced that they will be running a £26.2 million fund for fuel poverty action over the coming three years. This is great news, especially at a time when funding from energy suppliers through ECO has virtually disappeared and as Green Deal (which was not designed for the fuel poor) falters.

So where has the money come from? Well, technically, it should have been spent already. Two energy companies – Drax and Intergen – failed to meet their obligations under the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), a previous energy supplier obligation scheme. So the penalty for failing to deliver on energy efficiency is to pay for energy efficiency – I do like the closure of that, rather than the money just disappearing into the exchequer.

I am curious to know how much it would have cost Drax and Intergen to meet their obligations under CESP and whether the £26.2 million is actually quite punitive…

That said, I’m delighted that NEA have been able to agree that they will manage the fines / money. So far, we know that there will be three elements to their work: a Warm Zones fund (£13 million) which will presumably operate on a similar basis to other area-based schemes (including, ironically, CESP); a Technical Innovation Fund; and a Warm and Healthy Homes Fund.

The Warm and Healthy Homes Fund sounds as though it will be a Warm Homes, Healthy People type programme – bringing together health and social care professionals, public health and the energy efficiency agenda to provide not just energy efficiency but warmth packs, behavioural advice and perhaps tariff advice to residents with health vulnerabilities.

The Technical Innovation Fund sounds interesting too – my hope is that it explores not just product / material innovation (eg, new heating controls, thinner insulation materials) but also process innovation, to help the supply chain and its partners to grapple with some of the logistical challenges that persist in energy efficiency and retrofit. Innovations to help with scheduling, contractor / client communication and minimising disruption would all be welcomed, not just for those in fuel poverty but across the general population.

If you want to find out more about the NEA “Redressing the Balance” funding, you can sign up for email updates by sending your contact details to customer-redress@nea.org.uk.

 

*Image sourced from Greenpeace

Government publishes Fuel Poverty Strategy

FP MapThe Government has published its Fuel Poverty Strategy (at last!). There aren’t too many surprises, compared to the consultation and development documents that were circulated last year. Here are some pointers:

(more…)