Working with partners in the South West to reduce fuel poverty
Written by Joan Brockie, Marketing & Partnerships, Home Energy Scotland South West
Fuel poverty; two words that many people hadn’t really heard of or considered until this year. The reality is that fuel poverty is affecting increasing numbers of people and households every week. That number is only going to rise as the cost of living and energy bills crisis affect our daily lives.
What is fuel poverty?
- When they are spending more than 10% of their net income on their energy bills.
- After further adjustments are made to deduct childcare costs and any benefits received for a disability or care need, their remaining income is insufficient to maintain an acceptable standard of living, defined as being at least 90% of the UK Minimum Income Standard (MIS).
Over the past six months we have seen increasing numbers of customers contacting Home Energy Scotland for support and advice. Many of these people have not needed our service before but now find themselves unable to heat their homes.
Our advice team regularly take calls from people who are making difficult decisions.
It is a harsh and stark reality that fuel poverty is sweeping through our nation, whilst the cost of living increases and we move into the colder months. Food banks reiterate this, asking for donations of ‘no cook’ items as people simply can’t afford to heat their meals.
Our South West advice centre
In our South West advice centre we are working with more partners than ever. There has been a sharp and steady rise, especially over the last three months, as more and more organisations connect with us to help support their clients and customers. Through these partnerships we can reach more customers who need our help. This means we have a wider range of partners to refer our customers to for appropriate help and support.
One example of this is the work that our South West advice centre has been doing with Newton Primary School. The school is in an area of high deprivation and is attended by various nationalities of children. Recognising the impact of multiple deprivation on children’s attendance and wellbeing, Head Teacher Fiona McAvoy and her team have set up a hub within the school. This supports not only the families who attend the school, but also the wider community, with food, household, clothing and energy-saving supplies.
What we do to address fuel poverty
Our team from Home Energy Scotland South West advice centre regularly attend the hub alongside various other partner organisations. This gives us the opportunity to chat face-to-face with those attending. We give advice on saving energy at home, funding and grants, and refer any customers who need an additional level of support to our Energycarer service. The work of the hub doesn’t stop when the school doors close. The partners have a catch-up meeting every week and use this to follow up or check-in with any regular community attendees who were absent that day, to make sure they are okay.
It’s important to remember that organisations supporting people who are in fuel poverty will have colleagues who are living with the same worries as the customers they are helping. Our team are fantastic at what they do. It’s important that we keep supporting them as they hear from and help customers who are in heart-breaking situations. We are far from being out of the woods and as the winter creeps in, sadly more and more people will find themselves in fuel poverty. It’s not going away, and it is the horrific daily reality for far too many.
Get in touch
If your organisation would like to partner with us, please get in touch. You can check out our website to see how we can work together to help people save energy, money and keep their homes warm.
If you’re finding it difficult to pay your bills while keeping your home warm, get in touch with us. Our expert advisors can help you discover how to stay warm and comfortable and manage your energy use.