This section examines efforts to tackle fuel poor households and promote energy efficiency, as rising energy costs are in danger of pushing people beneath the poverty line.
- Brighton and Hove Council: £150 council tax energy rebate donation scheme
Brighton & Hove Council identified a number of households who said they do not need the energy council tax rebate which is intended to help with fuel bills. In response, they supported the launch of the Brighton & Hove Cost of Living Crisis Appeal, the funds of which will go directly to supporting the most vulnerable households in the area.
- Bristol City Council: Bristol’s One City Response
From March 2022, the Bristol City Council Neighbourhood and Communities service have convened staff from across the council to understand the potential impacts of the rising cost of living on individuals and communities.
- City of York Council: Zero Carbon Homes Programme
A new build housing programme with all homes built to Passivhaus certification, ensuring high thermal efficiency. In addition, all schemes are low parking developments with a focus on cycling and walking with car free streets.
- Cornwall Council: Make Big Savings by Bus scheme
In April 2022 Cornwall Council launched the Make Big Savings by Bus scheme, which has significantly cut the cost of bus travel for residents in Cornwall by around one third. The council has introduced new Tap & Cap technology that means customers using contactless will be cards will be charged no more than £5 a day or £20 a week, no matter how many journeys they take. The initiative follows the council’s successful bid for £23.5m in government funding involves bus companies including First South West and Go Cornwall Bus working in partnership as Transport for Cornwall. It is hoped the initiative will encourage more people to travel by bus, which will not only save residents money but also contribute to the council’s net zero goals.
- Cornwall Council: Whole House Retrofit Innovation Project
Cornwall is working towards an ambitious target of being Net Zero by 2030 and are finding ways of cutting their carbon footprint, while improving the quality of life of their citizens. Being one of the poorest areas of the UK, they acknowledge the need to ensure residents and businesses are not worse off as a result of action taken. Making energy efficiency improvements to existing properties is a key part of their response to tackling the climate emergency. But it also shows commitment to social justice by helping to reduce fuel poverty.
- Ealing London Borough Council: Energy efficiency helpline
The Healthy Homes Ealing project aims to reduce the number of cold homes and hospital admissions. Its telephone helpline is open to all Ealing residents and gives advice on how to save energy and cut fuel bills and offers a 'green doctor' consultation for qualifying residents. It operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5.30pm and can be accessed via telephone or online.
- East Suffolk Council: ‘Ease the Squeeze’
East Suffolk Council has worked with partners across sectors, through a series of workshops, to develop a wide reaching programme to support local residents with the rising cost of living.
- Ease Sussex County Council: Discounted travel as part of a ‘Bus Back Better’ strategy
To increase bus use and help residents with increasing petrol prices, East Sussex Council have partnered with Brighton and Hove Buses and Metrobus to introduce lower bus fares, including a £5 East Sussex day ticket, a child fare of £1 after 6pm and free travel for four children with an adult. The council has offered to reimburse some costs to the operators.
- Eastbourne Borough Council: £250,000 cost of living emergency grant scheme
Eastbourne Borough Council has announced a £250,000 ‘cost of living emergency grant’ scheme that will deliver an immediate payment of £20,000 to Eastbourne Foodbank, with one thousand local people benefitting. The emergency grant will enable Eastbourne Foodbank to directly support even more people who have fallen into food and fuel poverty.
- Gateshead Council: Creating warm spaces this winter
Gateshead Council is planning a network of Warm Spaces, where vulnerable residents can come together to stay warm and socialise.
- Greater Manchester Combined Authority: Keeping Well this Winter
In December 2020, Greater Manchester's Ageing Hub and partners launched a campaign to support older people who are not online with practical information to keep well in winter.
- Greater Manchester Combined Authority: New funding for home upgrades to keep energy prices down
Greater Manchester residents will be able to access funding for home upgrades that will cut energy use and lower bills, in a wide-ranging initiative believed to be the first of its kind in the UK. New finance schemes unlock money for upgrades to private and rental properties, including heating, insulation and flood and heat protection. The authority hopes the scheme, to be rolled out from December, will help upgrade the energy efficiency of around 60,000 homes a year for three years.
- Hertfordshire County Council: Hertfordshire Energy Advice Tool (HEAT) app
Hertfordshire partnered with Energy Saving Trust to provide an energy efficiency app. The Hertfordshire Energy Advice Tool (HEAT) app is free to download and gives users a virtual tour around a typical home, asking questions about different habits and appliances and giving advice to reduce energy use along the way.
- Lancashire County Council: £1 million affordable warmth scheme
Lancashire County Council has launched a new scheme to help residents live in warmer homes, as part of their efforts to support residents impacted by the cost of living crisis.
The Affordable Warmth Lancashire fund will be distributed to Lancashire's district councils on a grant basis, for them to allocate the funding to assist residents on low incomes and those who are vulnerable to the effects of living in a cold home. A cross-party task force has been set up identify and adopt best practice and work in delivering 'warm hubs and welcoming space' schemes.
- Leicestershire County Council - Group-buying for solar
Solar Together and Leicestershire council have partnered on a scheme to help residents save on energy bills and cut carbon emissions by investing in solar panels through a new group-buying scheme. The initiative helps people looking to make an investment in solar panels for their house and battery storage systems for a reduced rate. Residents can register their interest for free and opt to be entered into an auction, where solar panel suppliers compete by offering the lowest rate for installation. The more people registered, the lower the price can be.
- London Borough of Hackney: ‘Help at Hand’
Hackney council have developed a new advice leaflet that pulls together information on a range of different support.
The guide includes telephone numbers, opening times, and website addresses, alongside innovative tips on how to reduce outgoings and increase income. The information is laid out in a way that is both accessible and convenient for the user. Residents with multiple needs, or have digital barriers, may find the booklet of particular use.
- Maidstone Borough Council: Working with South East Water to automatically transfer customers to social tariffs
Maidstone has launched a data sharing partnership with South East Water to identify low-income customers and automatically transfer them to a social water tariff. The council have utilised the powers set out in the Digital Economy Act to achieve this, a legislation aimed at improving public services through the better use of data. In this instance, Maidstone have shared the names and addresses of eligible customers, based on council tax support data, with the water company. Qualifying customers in the borough of Maidstone who are not already on the social tariff are then advised by South East Water in writing that they have automatically been given the reduced rate.
- Norfolk County Council: Warm and Well bags
Norfolk County Council has allocated £84,000 of the Household Support Fund so that local libraries can continue to provide Warm and Well schemes.
As well as offering a warm space and hot drinks, all 47 libraries will provide bags of essentials ‘to go’, including Keep Warm and Go Bags containing a hat, blanket, socks, and a hot water bottle. The funding from the county council will pay for around 2,000 of the bags that will be offered on a non-means tested basis.
Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities and partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said: “We know times are tough for everyone at the moment, which is why we are doing everything we can to support those in need. The grab-and-go bags are a really good way for people to get hold of vital supplies, and our no-questions-asked policy will encourage people to come forward and get support”.
- North Tyneside Council: working with young people to improve their life chances
Incidents of ASB in Wallsend reduced by almost 50 per cent in four months when North Tyneside Council and the neighbourhood policing team set out to engage with young residents more effectively through outreach, early intervention and a new drop-in centre. Young people said they didn’t want a traditional youth club but needed a dry, warm place to go, with wi-fi, where they could feel safe and listen to music without being moved on.
- Portsmouth City Council: Switched On Portsmouth
Switched On Portsmouth was launched in November 2019 by Portsmouth City Council to provide a comprehensive service to offer Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant residents ways in which they can save energy and money in their homes.
- Oxfordshire County Council: Better Housing Better Health
Better Housing Better Health is a single point of contact providing telephone support and home visits for more vulnerable residents. This year significant, additional of £245,000 funding was jointly made by the County Council, the five Districts and City Councils, the Clinical Commissioning Group, and from the COMF fund, with some additional resources from the Household Support Fund.
It is also well networked with local VCSE groups to provide cross referrals for both energy efficiency and more social needs, such as loneliness and isolation. The service works with Social Prescribers, provided by Age UK Oxfordshire and also the Councils Social and Health Care Team.
The service can provide advice on energy saving as well as linking into local energy efficiency funding, such as the Sustainable Warmth funding and providing access to Emergency Fuel vouchers when available.
The home visiting service is being evaluated to measure the impact on health and health services by matching NHS records and qualitative evaluation is being planned.
- Portsmouth City Council: Warmer Homes Programme for lower-income households
Portsmouth City Council, in partnership with 20 other local authority partners, has secured funding through the Sustainable Warmth funding competition, administered by the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to offer funding to improve the energy efficiency of qualifying homes. The Local Authority and Delivery and Homes Upgrade Grant funding in particular is being used to fully fund solar PV installations to qualifying households (low-income with poor EPC-ratings), it is estimated around 2,000 homes will receive solar under the initiative.
- Royal Borough of Greenwich: Stay Warm, Stay Safe
Stay Warm, Stay Safe is a service provided by Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) and Live Well Greenwich, aimed to help Royal Borough of Greenwich residents to manage in cold conditions and heat their homes over the winter. It focuses on residents who may be at risk and people who may be struggling to pay their energy bills.
The scheme is not exclusive and is open to anyone in the Borough in need of support. The following people could benefit from Stay Warm Stay Safe.
The service runs from October to March and offers tailored support including help with grant applications and switching energy providers. Examples of support include:
- energy efficiency
- impartial advice on keeping fuel bills down
- advice on benefits
- home fire safety visits by the London Fire Brigade
- advice on keeping active and healthy in the Winter months.
Greenwich council have allocated additional funding for fuel poverty this year through the Government’s Household Support Fund. Funding will either be given directly to households through the Greenwich Community Hubs for things such as such as small energy debts and vouchers, or via South East London Community Energy (SELCE) to fund energy efficiency home measures.
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea: First Low-energy council home
Verity Close is Kensington and Chelsea’s first low-energy retrofit council home. Completed in summer 2021, this project provided a family with a sustainable home that has reduced the heating demand by half and saved an estimated £1,000 in utility bills annually. It is the foundation on which they Council will make a wider estate carbon-neutral by 2030.
- South Somerset District Council: Retrofit in Rural Somerset
South Somerset District Council are embarking on a programme of retrofitting council properties and supporting the community to retrofit their homes to save money, carbon and increase comfort and wellbeing.
- St Helens Borough Council: Warm Spaces initiative
To ensure its residents have access to somewhere warm and comfortable and to help ease some of the unprecedented pressures on households due to rising costs, St Helens have established a network of warm spaces. They are also working with partners to explore opportunities to expand them.
- Suffolk Libraries: ‘Kindness Racks’ of warm clothing
Suffolk Libraries, a charity that runs the country’s library service, will be opening all of their venues as warm hubs this winter. As well as providing warm drinks, it is planned that each library will have a ‘Kindness Rack’ where people can donate warm winter clothes for people to collect.
- Swale Borough Council: Fuel and Water Home Advice Service
When declaring the Climate and Ecological Emergency in 2019, Swale Borough Council committed to ensuring the most vulnerable in society were not adversely affected. To help deprived communities save money, improve their energy and water efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions, a Fuel and Water Home Adviser was appointed to work within communities to improve their livelihoods.
- Telford and Wrekin Council: Telford Energy Advice
Telford Energy Advice (TEA) are a joint service that offers free impartial, energy advice bespoke to the individual circumstances of residents of Telford & Wrekin. The partnership supports residents with advice on rising energy bills, help with fuel debt and issues with suppliers, support in accessing grants for insulation and heating improvements, and home energy checks alongside free energy saving measures.
In response to the cost of living, TEA have produced a new cost of living booklet and are running a series of drop-in sessions at local libraries and community centres.
- Wiltshire Council: Housing Energy Efficiency Programme
Following success in its bid for Green Homes Grant funding worth £546,500 in 2021 to improve 100 of its least energy efficient homes, Wiltshire Council's Housing Energy Efficiency Programme (HEEP) got under way.
The Green Homes Grant is to support the Local Authority Delivery Scheme for energy efficiency improvements to low Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) homes, which will help to reduce carbon emissions and create energy savings supporting the councils’ commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030.
The council received the funding through the Government's Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme and it will be used to help deliver the HEEP which aims to bring the energy rating of all council houses in Wiltshire up to EPC B rating over the next 10 years.
In July 2002, Wiltshire council introduced a new robot called QBot, which brings in cutting edge technology to ensure the HEEP is operating effectively.
QBot is a robot which is deployed into the gaps between floors in houses with suspended timber floor construction. QBot moves around within the cavity and distributes an insulation foam, creating underfloor insulation and greatly improving the ability to retain heat.
Traditionally, this would have required the removal of floorboards, causing a major disruption to our residents. With QBot on the case, the disruption is limited as the robot does the work from within the floor.