Wales Fuel Poverty Reduction Hubs success at National Energy Efficiency Awards

Flintshire and Cardiff Councils work in leading fuel poverty reduction in Wales was a runner up at the National Energy Efficiency and Retrofit awards held in Birmingham last Friday. The partnerships were nominated by Warm Wales Community Interest Company under the large project category and were up against stiff national competition from 36 major projects.

Craig Anderson, CEO of Warm Wales said:

Craig Anderson & Prof Phil Jones at AwardsThe new fuel poverty reduction hubs partnerships are a great example of how joint resources can help the most needy fuel poor households. The partnership hubs concept is completely in alignment with the desire of the Energy Regulator, Ofgem, to direct ECO grant resources towards Local Council’s in identifying the highest priority cases and meets the key indicators in the NICE
Clinical Excellence Guidelines.

Flintshire County Council Cabinet Member for the Environment, Councillor Bernie Attridge, said:

We are delighted to have the Fuel Poverty Reduction Hubs initiative recognised at these national awards . Our work in Wales, with colleagues at Cardiff Council and our partners, on fostering Fuel Poverty Reduction Hubs shows a new determination in tackling the silent killer of Fuel Poverty. Joining forces under the Healthy Homes Healthy People initiative allows us to share best practise, creating more effective action plans. These are harnessing the skills of our in-house Domestic Energy and Environmental Health Teams with North East Wales Care & Repair Charity. It also aligns the work of fuel poverty community interest company Warm Wales ~ Cymru Gynnes alongside the National Energy Action, Warm and Healthy Homes Fund and Welsh Government Programmes.

City of Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability, Councillor Ramesh Patel, said:

Sharing best practice across Wales helps us all work more effectively. We are working to change our focus from reactive services to proactive targeting of the most needy households, using the latest data mapping technique, FRESH which is pioneered by Warm Wales CIC and Cardiff University. This powerful mapping tool is highlighting areas where poor health is made worse by high levels of damp cold-hazard homes and enables us to identify and then help those most in need.

Commenting on the national recognition, Steven Edwards, Wales & West Utilities Director of Regulation and Commercial said:

Local authorities are best placed to identify the needs of their residents so we’re delighted that this partnership working has been recognised as helping those most in need. The Fuel Poverty Reduction hubs also look at the impact that fuel poverty can have on people’s health and well-being to try and reduce demand on hard pressed NHS and social services”.“We’re now continuing our work with local authorities, as well as with colleagues in the electricity and water industries to establish local Priority Service Registers to allow us to work more effectively alongside councils to make sure that the households living in fuel poverty get the help they need.

Notes:

1. The National Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Awards : is the culmination of Regional best practice awards to encourage excellence in the delivery of energy services in upgrading homes. The judging panel comprises industry experts and is completely independent. The event organisers have announced that next years awards will be called the Energy Efficiency & Healthy Homes Awards – reflecting an increasing emphasis on health.

2. Wales Fuel Poverty Reduction Partnerships : These work as area-based regional ‘Hubs’ . They are based on the previous Affordable Warmth Partnerships but with in-depth research and fully integrated working. The North Wales Hub comprises Flintshire County Council ( Lead Authority ) , with North East Care & Repair , North Wales Energy Efficiency Advice Centre and Warm Wales CIC. The South Wales Hub comprises Cardiff Council , with Cardiff and Vale Care & Repair, Warm Wales CIC and Step Change debt advice centre. Both Hubs are supported by Citizens Advice and NEA Cymru.

3. Ofgem is the National Energy Regulator : It controls the services provided by Energy Suppliers and the Gas and Electricity Distribution Utility Companies. They also control the Energy Company Obligation grant scheme which requires the larger Energy Companies to distribute ECO grant in return for saving carbon. ECO is raised on all domestic fuel bills and constitutes approximately 4% of fuel energy bills currently . ECO comprises a fund of £840m reduced from a 2013 value of £1300m and scheduled to decrease to £640 next year. It remains a significant grant source and at current rates comprises between 10% and 20% of a project cost.

4. City & County Councils: Are elected local bodies delivering a wide range of local services, part funded by Council Tax raised locally. Councils have a statutory obligation to integrate services with local NHS services .The particular services involved here are Environmental Health, Housing Energy and Housing strategy.

5. Care & Repair Charities : There are a network of 11 locally based C&R Charities in Wales, typically covering 2 local authority areas. Care & Repair Cymru are the national co-ordinating body. Their services are part funded by Welsh Government and comprise home safety advice for the over 60’s , covering income/debt, slips, trips, falls advice plus disabled adaptions and home condition works including insulation and heating.

6. Warm Wales ~ Cymru Gynnes CIC: WW was the first Community Interest Company set up in the UK in 2004 to tackle fuel poverty. The company operates on an ethical not-for-profit basis and has attracted £58m of measures to help 60,000 homes. The WW operational area mirrors Wales & West Utilities as they administer the fuel poor gas network expansion scheme. This is delivered in SW England through their sister company Integrated Energy Services.

7. Wales & West Utilities Ltd: Is the Gas Distribution Network Operator, regulated by Ofgem. WWU provides residential and commercial gas supplies throughout all of Wales and South West England . Under the Fuel poor Network Extension Scheme, WWU is obligated by Ofgem to deliver new gas connections to qualifying fuel poor households

8. National Energy Action: is the main Fuel Poverty Charity in the England Wales and N.Ireland. In Scotland Fuel Poverty work is overseen by Energy Action Scotland, a sister company of NEA. NEA operates the Warm and Healthy Homes Fund to focus on grant assistance ( equivalent to ECO ) helping vulnerable fuel poor households also affected by health conditions.

9. NHS NICE Clinical Guidelines : The National Instute for Health and Care Excellence has produced guidelines to help the NHS and others to organise services which best help those suffering from cold-related illnesses

10. Press Contact : Any queries regarding this Press Release should be directed to : Craig Anderson on 07793369169 or via craig.anderson@warmwales.org.uk

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