Cabinet approves strategy to tackle fuel poverty, reduce carbon emissions and fuel costs
Shropshire Council’s Cabinet have this morning (Wednesday 18 October 2023) approved the council’s draft Sustainable Affordable Warmth Strategy 2023–2030.
The strategy, developed by the council’s affordable warmth and energy efficiency team, summarises the challenges faced in Shropshire, and sets out the council’s aims to tackle fuel poverty through a range of sustainable measures to provide affordable warmth, whilst increasing the energy performance of homes and reducing carbon emissions.
The Sustainable Affordable Warmth Strategy sets out three objectives, each having a set of associated priorities that will form an action plan. These objectives are:
- Raising awareness of the importance of tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency.
- Establishing a pathway to zero-carbon housing.
- Attracting funding to deliver affordable warmth and improve energy efficiency.
It is estimated that in 2020 16.5% of households in Shropshire were in fuel poverty.
Unaffordable fuel bills can lead to choices such as heat or eat: cold homes can have negative impacts on both mental and physical health* and can directly contribute towards excess winter deaths. Those most at risk of ill health from fuel poverty include children, older people and people with disabilities.
The strategy sets out plans to help alleviate fuel poverty by delivering sustainable energy efficiency schemes that will help improve the energy efficiency of a home, which will reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a home, and in turn, help to reduce fuel costs.
Reducing fuel usage, especially fossil fuels, helps to reduce carbon emissions. The strategy includes plans to move towards using sustainable non-fossil fuels to provide heat and power, whilst ensuring these are affordable to the household. This includes adopting a retrofit fabric first approach, by prioritising repairs, insulation, draught-proofing, and ventilation ahead of add-ons such as solar panels. This approach brings many benefits including making homes more comfortable and easier to keep warm and healthy, reducing the need for maintenance and protecting the building fabric. This can help reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.
The council has successfully secured significant amounts of private and public funds to deliver a fabric first approach across the private and social housing sectors. This has resulted in grant funding programmes for air-source heat pumps, internal, external, and underfloor insulation measures, and windows and doors replacements.
Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and assets, said:-
“The Sustainable Affordable Warmth Strategy 2023-2030 is key to tackling inequality, an important outcome supported by The Shropshire Plan, and sets out an action plan to tackle fuel poverty, inequality, and improve energy efficiency across all tenures of housing.
“Our affordable warmth and energy efficiency team have been instrumental in securing millions of pounds in funding from the Government to help deliver our sustainable warmth programme to help tackle fuel poverty across the county, supporting those on low incomes and those in the least energy-efficient homes in the county. Their work has been recognised at the recent the National Energy Efficiency Awards 2023 where they won Council of the year and came second place for Insulation and Fabric Project of the Year.
“This incredible accolade provides a solid foundation to help us continue to achieve sustainable affordable warmth across Shropshire and to deliver our strategy.”
To view the Sustainable Affordable Warmth Strategy 2023–2030 click here.
Shropshire ‘s Sustainable Affordable Warmth Strategy 2023-2030 aims to set out the importance of tackling fuel poverty, improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions from domestic dwellings. It seeks to establish the challenges faced in Shropshire, especially the estimated cross-tenure investment needs to reach net zero by 2030. and summarises the current approaches to tackling fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions.
Although it is not a statutory requirement for a council to produce an actual affordable warmth strategy, it is good practice to do so.
*Health impacts of cold homes include increased risk of cardio-vascular problems; damp and mould exacerbating respiratory illnesses; poor diet due to heat or eat choices; mental ill health; and worsening or/slow recovery from existing conditions, for example, arthritis.
In some circumstances, health problems may be exacerbated to such a degree that they may cause death. In addition, the use of fossil fuels as a form of heating results in carbon emissions which pollute the environment and cause climate change. By making homes more energy efficient and by using low-carbon heating measures, then homes should be more affordable to heat, with an associated reduction in carbon emissions.