London Fuel Poverty Hub

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What does the new Government mean for fuel poverty?

DSC_2697Head over to our Opinion page for a view from Liz Warren, Director of SE2 Ltd.

Liz was one of the team who set up the London Fuel Poverty Hub as a way of coordinating information, data and responses to fuel poverty across the capital. She’s worked extensively in energy efficiency, helping to inform national policy and alongside local authorities across the country to deliver local support and services.

New report on how London can adapt to risks of severe weather

The London Assembly Environment Committee recently published a short report full of useful information and insights for anyone working in fuel poverty or housing or supporting vulnerable people. It’s called Come Rain or Shine – London’s adaptation to the risks of severe weather and it’s well worth a read.

It looks at the potential impacts of a changing climate in relation to heat, cold, floods and drought. London already faces challenges from severe weather – many of you will remember the heatwave summers of the early 2000s (and some may remember 1976!) which had such a dramatic effect on health and wellbeing. And even an average winter presents significant health challenges to people living in cold homes, putting extra stresses in the health system.

Have a read – share the report – and feel free to tweet us @LDNFuelPoverty to let us know how you think London should respond to the challenges of a changing climate.

£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:

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NEA / DECC Energy on Prescription survey

Here’s some information received from NEA about a survey they are carrying out. We’d encourage all London based organisations to respond to the survey, to make sure that findings and recommendations meet the needs of fuel poor households in the capital.

Are you an organisation helping households that are cold and sick gain access to help on energy? If so, National Energy Action on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is asking you to participate in an ‘energy on prescription’ survey.

DECC is running the survey to learn more about how energy efficiency and other fuel poverty schemes are targeting households with health problems. The survey will be used to develop a catalogue of ‘energy on prescription’ schemes that DECC is happy to share with respondents. You may find it useful in delivering your own scheme. Your participation will also help government work out the best way to support local delivery by organisations like yours in the future.

More information and the survey questionnaire can be found here.

The survey closes on 3 February 2015.

Let’s get practical – dealing with damp

Our last few posts have looked at some of the bigger picture, policy-related issues around fuel poverty, but as we hit October and it starts to rain on a more regular basis, we thought it time to think about something more practical:

DAMP.

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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!