Fuel Poverty Awareness Day: support on hand for those suffering from fuel poverty
Shropshire Council are today (Friday 27 November 2020) taking part in a national campaign to raise awareness and highlight the support available to those who are struggling to heat their homes.
Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, led by national charity National Energy Action (NEA), aims to highlight the issues around fuel poverty and encourage people to seek support to help them keep safe and warm at home.
Shropshire Council, along with its partners, offer a range of support and advice to help those in fuel poverty or facing other financial worries. These include:
- Keep Shropshire Warm – a programme run for the council and Marches Energy Agency (MEA) that offers free and impartial energy advice to anyone in need in Shropshire. Local advisers can support residents with a range of energy concerns, from accessing grant funding to switching supplier or resolving fuel debt issues. A new Smarten Up, Power Down project has recently launched, offering practical support to householders who are finding it harder to afford energy bills due to the impact of the pandemic. Residents who require help and support can contact the Keep Shropshire Warm team for free on 0800 112 3743 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Warmer Homes Shropshire – launched in May this year this initiative, run in partnership with E.On, offers free grants to eligible households for first time central heating. The scheme is open to homeowners, as well as private tenants and their landlords. For more information and to apply visit http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/warmer-homes-shropshireor call 0333 202 4481.
- Financial assistance – The council now has a range of funding available to help the most vulnerable of Shropshire’s households to manage over the winter months. This includes financial help for those eligible and who have been affected by the pandemic and who may be struggling to pay for food or other essential outgoings. Please note this is limited funding and will only be offered for a limited time until it is spent. To find out more call 0345 678 9078.
- The Shropshire Rural Communities Charity (RCC) – offer grants for emergency fuel and energy-saving improvements in people’s homes. The RCC work with the council and other organisations to find people most in need and provide them with insulation, draft exclusion and other energy saving measures. The RCC are currently running their annual Warmer Winter Appeal to help support local people living in fuel poverty. To find out more and to donate visit. https://www.shropshire-rcc.org.uk/support-our-work/warmer-winter-appeal
Every winter millions of people across the UK struggle to stay warm and healthy at home. In Shropshire alone there is around 16,000 households suffering from fuel poverty.
Rising energy costs, low incomes and energy inefficient homes leave them unable to afford even basic household essentials like energy, food and heating. Living in a cold home can have a range of impacts on physical and mental health and treating cold-related illness is estimated to cost the NHS in England and Wales over £2bn a year.
This year the fuel poverty situation will be even more difficult. The pandemic is squeezing household finances further and compelling people to spend more time in their homes. Some of the health conditions caused or worsened by cold homes, such as asthma and COPD, also place people at greater risk from the virus.
Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said:
“Everybody deserves to live in a warm and safe home. With many of us facing new challenges this winter, many people are spending additional time at home and may need support with how to stay warm and safe; while those who are ill or self-isolating may also have concerns about practical challenges in paying for their energy.
“Fuel Poverty Awareness Day provides a great opportunity to find out more and access the support available across Shropshire.
“Throughout the day we’ll be highlighting the work that is being undertaken across Shropshire to support people in fuel poverty this winter. Do keep a lookout on our social media channels, and help us reach those who will benefit from our support.”
Keep Shropshire Warm’s Davina Allen added:-
“Already we’re seeing an increased demand for our support in the area. Many households struggle with fuel poverty every year in Shropshire, but with the extra pressure put on by the pandemic, more residents are concerned about staying warm this winter.
“We’re here to support those who are struggling to heat their homes or afford their energy bills, as well as householders looking to improve the energy efficiency of their home. We accept referrals from family and friends, so if you or someone you know is worried about fuel bills, please do get in touch”.
To support the campaign follow us @shropcouncil hashtag #FuelPovertyAwarenessDay #WarmSafeHomes or on Facebook. You can also follow the Keep Shropshire Warm team on Facebook @KeepShropshireWarm
To find out more about the support available during the pandemic, call the council’s COVID-19 community Helpline on 0345 678 028.
You can find out more about Fuel Poverty Awareness Day at https://www.nea.org.uk/nea-campaigns/fpad/?parent=what-we-do
*Statistics from the UK Fuel Poverty Monitor 2019-20 – https://www.nea.org.uk/researchpolicy/ukfpm-2020/?parent=what-we-do/policy-and-research
This winter could be the most devastating for fuel poor customers in years. Those who were already struggling with their energy costs may find that they are plunged deeper into crisis, while others who may have never been worried about their finances could find themselves in a very different situation to where they were 12 months ago.
A survey of 73 organisations supporting people in fuel poverty during the first wave of Covid-19, conducted by National Energy Action, showed that 95% felt there was a moderate or high risk of more households cutting back on their energy use due to being forced to spend more time at home; and three quarters said they were concerned that there is a high risk of the increased building up of fuel debt this winter. *
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of NEA, commented: ‘‘Millions of people dread the cold weather, and have no idea of the support that may be available to them. While we are urging the Government to do more we also want to highlight the huge range of help that is available, from energy suppliers, local authorities, community groups and others. By working together we can get help to those who need it, and ensure more people can live in a warm and safe home this winter’.