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TOPIC: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year?

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 3 weeks ago #16

Ring fencing a regular funding to improve multi national community development projects (locally or nation wide)
Taking seriously the small community and voluntary groups which are working with commitment by organizing joint events aiming at partnership work on the topics chosen by them.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 3 weeks ago #17

ICT training for hard to reach community members to help them access to information and available services as access to information is the main issue especially in Health sector.
Help ordinary people to influence local policies by bringing important council officers and the natural leaders of the communities who can be reached by the help of small organisations.
Help over 50s to learn how to use social media.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #18

UK-wide, it is clear that successive policies have failed in dealing with the issue of fuel poverty. In the last ten years, implemented strategies have struggled to stop fuel poverty rising, let alone cause a decline. Due to the “10%” definition (10% of household income being spent on energy bills) of fuel poverty being highly sensitive to retail gas price and household income, it could be argued that changes in the numbers of fuel poor households (both positive and negative) have barely been touched by government energy policy; the effect of small increases in, for example, insulation levels tend to be a relative drop in the ocean compared to the rising cost of energy.

The problem has now been further complicated by the introduction of the “Low Income High Costs” (LIHC) re-definition of fuel poverty. The Hills Review of fuel poverty, while providing a welcome discussion around how we define fuel poverty and how we target the most vulnerable homes, produced this LIHC metric (along with a new measure of fuel poverty “depth”) that is far less sensitive to some of the above changes that might be considered important for households who cannot afford heating bills. Indeed, as shown in the Hills Review, the number of fuel poor homes does not change substantially from year to year using this new definition when compared to the older definition. Furthermore, as the total number of fuel poor homes is substantially less under this new definition (with some estimates suggesting 800,000 homes would be re-defined as being no longer fuel poor), there is the danger that this is used for political convenience – especially at a time when funding to combat fuel poverty (such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme) is being watered down. It is therefore quite possible that official government fuel poverty figures will not demonstrate the detrimental effect of these current funding reductions on genuinely fuel poor homes. The obfuscation of such numbers is arguably even more likely as, due to the time taken to process the official figures, fuel poverty statistics tend to be in the region of two years old by the time they are published, making a discussion of cause-and-effect slightly more difficult. In Scotland, the “10%” definition is likely to remain in use, at time of writing. However, Scotland’s definition has been different to that in England and Wales since 2003, where higher comfort temperatures (for longer times of occupancy) were assumed for vulnerable homes. It remains to be seen whether the deviation in definitions either side of the border will results in different solutions being applied in the coming years.

However, the above discussion about defining fuel poverty can sometimes sidetrack us in our approach to dealing with the problem. It is unlikely that our inability to deal with fuel poverty has, thus far, been limited by an overly simplistic definition. Rather, the weakness to our approach is attaching too great an importance to policy targets (that, like the ambition to end fuel poverty by 2016, are abandoned when those deadlines get near) and not enough focus on the mechanisms, and funding, required to hit those targets. The UK has some of the worst fuel poverty statistics in Europe because we have some of the least efficient housing in Europe – and this information should be new to no one. Tens of billions of pounds per year, over many years, would be required to upgrade these homes if both carbon emission and fuel poverty targets were to be met. No government seems prepared to commit this spending from the exchequer, and it is highly unlikely that the private sector can achieve this either (even with a very gentle nudge from the state, a la the currently failing Green Deal).

To justify much greater state expenditure, government should apply more holistic cost analysis to investments in low-energy refurbishments in dwellings. If the horror of 20,000+ excess winter deaths every year is not enough to stimulate action, then what about the extra cost to the state (heating payments for the elderly, cost to the NHS due to illness etc) and reduced income (taxes from companies potentially involved in a green refurbishment industry, effect on employment) from inaction? Such a vast problem requires more permanent solutions, not the sticking plasters of short-term price freezes.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #19

Everyone has a story about the Isle of Wight. Fond childhood memories, a romantic weekend, or attendance at the internally famous music festivals. However, there is another side to this idyllic Island that isn't so well known or talked about. 20% of children here are in poverty and fuel poverty affects 16% of the population equating to around 9,925 people. In fact the figures may be even higher due to high unemployment and a large elderly population. Compared to the rest of the affluent South East, the Isle of Wight is the poor cousin.

The challenge for those of us at The Footprint Trust, is how to engage a section of the community that is by all definitions "hard to reach". There is a section of society that does not engage. They do not join clubs or interest groups, use social media, avoid libraries and community centres, do not have work or take part in volunteering. Think of all the networks you are involved in. How many times have you been given a useful piece of information and guidance from a work colleague or a member of your sports club? If you don't know something you look it up on a trusted internet site.

Those in fuel poverty are often affected by poverty in general. They are often poorly educated, have numeracy and literacy issues, and may also have an illness or a disability. These are not the sort of people you will find at your local Friends of the Earth meeting or the WI. When in comes to environmental awareness this group are not engaged. Read the average leaflet from green organisations, it is clearly written by graduates and aimed at their social group. Meet the average environmentalist and you will find a Guardian reading, well-educated middle class person.

For the fuel poor, from working class background the environment is pretty much an irrelevant issue. It is not they don't care it's just that they don't have time to care. They have other issues which are affecting them directly, such as paying bills and choosing between "heating and eating". There is perception that you have to have money to care and act on environmental issues. So-called "green consumerism" preaches that you have to buy green products and have green gadgets. All of which come with a price tag. The message that using less is what caring for the planet is really about, has been somewhat lost.

The Footprint Trust is known on the Island for reaching the hard to reach. How do we do that? Firstly, you wont see us at green fairs or posh farmers' markets. But you will find us a free events such as the annual Classic Car Show, you will also see us outside of local supermarkets and in local pubs and clubs. We don't work 9 to 5! You won't see any mention of saving the planet on our banner. It just says; Save Money - Save Energy - Free Guidance.

Those we assist through various schemes, Warmfront and Cert in the past and ECO now - also do help the planet, through reduced energy use thanks to efficient new boilers and insulation.

The Trust's tailored home visits give people simple lifestyle choices and guidance on the best use of their energy systems.

Our model has been very effective - helping some 1,000 people every year. We are recognized nationally and locally for our work is assisting the fuel poor and for engaging with the local community. We were given the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2013 and our General Manager was given the title Heat Hero by National Energy Action. Our work is currently being funded by social landlords and the local NHS via the My Life A Full life programme.
Last Edit: 2 months ago by Ray Harrington-Vail. Reason: Correction

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #20

Given that our socioeconomic system allows 1% of people to own 40% of the world’s wealth and 34000 children to die every day from poverty and preventable diseases, we ought not to be too surprised at fuel poverty. The existence of fuel poverty is even more damning when we consider that we currently have all the science and technology to provide sustainable, clean energy in abundance for everybody on this planet.

“Neither the great political and financial power structures of the world, nor the specialization-blinded professionals, nor the population in general realize that...it is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on earth at a “higher standard of living than any have ever known”. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival. War is obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #21

Future Years and LOPF have, for the second year running, organised, with NEA and DECC, a series of workshops where older people themselves are trained up on a range of energy saving measures to then go back into their communities to cascade top ten tips to others to help reduce fuel bills and keep warm in winter. The first tranche of such workshops, held last year, were evaluated and shown to be effective.

With fuel bills continuing to rise it is imperative that we collectively take whatever measure we can to ensure that older people are not forced into a choice between fuel or food.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #22

In Leicestershire, Warm Homes Officers are delivering the 4 Ways to Warmth project, a collaboration between Leicestershire County Council, 7 Leicestershire Borough Councils and Change Agent UK. Each Warm Homes Officer visits homes of the most vulnerable to check the house for adequate heating and insulation. Whilst visiting, we assist with ECO and Warm Homes Discount Schemes and advise on switching fuel tariffs. We offer practical support too, helping people to use their heating systems in the most efficient way. Since last December, we’ve delivered over 1,000 energy checks and organised (or attended) over 100 events to help people out of fuel poverty.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #23

We are looking at how feedback from energy bills can change peoples energy consumption if we let them know how they are doing compared to others households in the area with the similar family type.

The three feedback forms are from:

Simple energy usage (as a bill would be)

Smiley sad or neutral face dependant on how well you do it your group

And a ranking on how well you are or aren’t doing in your group

We have not received the results yet. Sustainable Homes are conducting the study.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #24

Reading Borough Council is again helping residents tackle fuel poverty and keep warm over the coming weeks with the re-launch of its Winter Watch initiative.

An estimated 10,500 households in Reading - or nearly 18% of all households in the town - are now considered ‘fuel poor’. That means many families across Reading will again struggle to keep warm this winter due to soaring energy prices and the need to balance their budgets.

Last year the Council’s Winter Watch scheme helped 800 vulnerable households in Reading keep warm over the winter months. Whilst Government funding for the scheme stopped this year, Reading Borough Council has chosen to find additional resource to continue the scheme this winter.

The Council will use £75 000 of the public health budget to provide extra resources for this year’s initiative. It also delivers one of the Council’s seven pledges made at last week’s Tackling Poverty event.

Please follow the link below to the press release for Reading Borough Council’s ‘Winter Watch’ scheme 2013/14:


Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #25

“As a registered provider of social housing, we are supporting our tenants in tackling fuel poverty by providing the following;

• £400,000 pa insulation upgrading works to properties of standard construction.
• Refurbishment of the non-traditional properties within the portfolio, during which we are;
1. Thermally upgrading 29 Swedish properties including the provision of P.V panels with a contract value of £1.1m
2. Thermally upgrading 148 Airey properties including the installation of P.V panels and Air Source Heat Pumps, with a contract value of £9.9m

• Provisional of sustainable housing during redevelopment works

Not only are we tackling the issue by address any weaknesses within our portfolio, but we also supply our tenants with the support of our Tenancy Advisors who can provide advice on managing household budgets. In essence we believe that there are two sides to supporting our tenants with fuel poverty, firstly providing them with the best accommodation that we can and secondly providing education on how best to manage their households.”

We will also be employing an energy advisor in the Jan 2014 to help support tenants and staff to understand the multitude of differing tariffs and ways to use their energy in a more efficient way alongside the behavioural aspects that need to be considered.”

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months, 1 week ago #26

I work as part of the Public Protection team at Gedling Borough Council, which is based in the East Midlands. Our job role entails doing Food Health Safety and Housing as part of our duties.

Since autumn 2012, we started carrying out visits to properties, to advice on Energy Efficiency measures with the householder/tenant, to try and combat fuel poverty. This has involved us doing a tailor made assessment of the person’s home and then advising 6 energy saving tips, some quick short term tips and some more longer term solutions too .E.g. pointing householders, towards ECO deal or Green Deal, where appropriate.
We get the referrals from Age UK and Nottinghamshire County Council. This is so we can target the most vulnerable groups who maybe in fuel poverty. Plus we get members of the public making enquiries too.
Furthermore despite the cuts in the council’s resources as an emergency measure elderly people, people with disabilities and long term health conditions and low income families are being offered a free radiator service to keep warm in the winter. The service is provided by Nottinghamshire County Council and Gedling Borough Council offers the loan of oil filled radiators to people who are most at risk this winter due to cold homes.
The service is part of Nottinghamshire County Council’s “Keep warm this winter” campaign aimed at reducing the number of avoidable deaths during the winter period.
Neighbourhood wardens from Gedling Borough Council can deliver heaters between 9am and 8pm, Monday to Friday, and between 9am and 12pm on Saturdays. In order to be eligible for a radiator people must meet certain criteria, the applicants must be people with one of the following;
• People aged 60 or over
• People with a disability
• People living with a long term condition specifically though not exclusively cardiac/stroke, lung, kidney disease
• Families on a low income defined as on a means-tested benefit
This we feel is extremely important, in light of the heightened winter deaths recently reported, we think it is imperative to try and help the vulnerable people, who would otherwise not receive any help and not know how to access it.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months ago #27

With all the other pressures on household incomes the mantra of “heat or eat” is a major concern to Merlin.
We are a medium-sized social landlord, owning or managing 8,300 homes in the South West. Most of our properties are in South Gloucestershire but we also have homes in Bath and North East Somerset and Bristol. We employ 400 staff to deliver our services.

Our vision is: "Quality homes, excellent services and strong communities, with customers at the heart of all that we do."

Since 2009 we have had an Affordable Warmth Strategy. This focuses on the lowest SAP rated properties first as a measure of those properties most likely to be hard or expensive to heat. Of particular concern are “Off-Gas” properties and those with expensive to run electric heating. This year we have investigated the benefits of renewable technologies. We have a plan to improve all our “Off-Gas” properties using renewable technologies. From a standing start over the summer, to date we have installed ten properties with such technologies and there are more in progress.

Our financial modelling indicates renewable technology will reduce the real heating costs for our tenants. It is a win-win as we have blended technologies to maximise the available funding structures through the Renewable Heat Incentive [RHI]. To demonstrate our commitment we were successful in obtaining the Renewable Heat Premium Payment [RHPP] in September 2013.

Going forward we do not see heating in isolation, but part of the integrated Asset Management Strategy. A key concept is to “sweat the asset” whilst at the same time making our homes warmer and cheaper to heat.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months ago #28

Fuel poverty is exacerbated by fuel price rises. Although it is difficult to definitively prove that early winter deaths are linked to the cold, clearly the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions are at risk.

Work to improve the properties of those most at risk is my key ongoing priority, but the government are not making my job easier by changing the rate at which ECO funding is released.

The short-termism (‘£50 off your energy bill’) is dangerous and does not tackle the core of the issue.

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months ago #29

Wolverhampton Homes recognises the pressure energy price increases have placed on our tenants at a time when household incomes are already stretched. In order to help our customers heat their homes to a suitable level, we are delivering a variety of programmes with a range of partners which include constructors, energy companies, employers and local support agencies. Initiatives include loft, cavity and external wall insulation programmes, communal heating schemes, gas boiler replacement programmes, solar PV installs, home energy visits and surgeries, energy efficiency repairs, meter replacement programmes and the establishment of a wide range of social media support. We believe that only collective, targeted action is likely to have the impact required to provide meaningful change and we are fully committed to playing our part in reducing the levels of fuel poverty within our communities

Re: Fuel poverty =24,000 deaths last year. Are you an observer or part of the solution this year? 2 months ago #30

As has already been identified the Fuel Poor rarely self identify therefore designing targeted interventions can be difficult. The most vulnerable are also least likely to engage with traditional communications, switch tariffs, take part in collective switching programmes etc. As a Social landlord we are trying to map our fuel poor residents by matching our worst thermally performing stock with data we have about income and benefits levels to come up with a priority list of residents and estates to target for extra support.

It would be interesting to examine a breakdown of the 24, 000 excess winter deaths (as well as previous trend data) to look at location, type of housing, demographics etc. (if this information is available) to help inform future policies and interventions. Most of the overarching trends are probably obvious/already known but it would be interesting to see an examination of the detail.

Interesting point around the Warm Homes Discount Scheme (WHDS) - those that would normally be eligible for the WHDS but live in Sheltered accommodation with communal heating/electricity bills and therefore not named on the account do not receive this as a benefit. However these residents still have to pay for electricity/gas bills but do not receive this support - inquiries to DWP and the energy companies seem to indicate this is a matter of logistics and administration but surely a system could be developed to help support these people and not exclude them? If anyone has any experience to build on this that would be appreciated.
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