Beating fuel poverty
Date published: 02 December 2019
Rising energy prices, low incomes and poor-quality housing means that over 130,000 households in Greater Manchester are living in fuel poverty
Living in a warm home is essential for our health and wellbeing, but rising energy prices, low incomes and poor-quality housing means that over 130,000 households in Greater Manchester are living in fuel poverty.
Following Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on Friday 29 November, Groundwork Greater Manchester is supporting the national Warm and Safe Homes campaign, whilst Cadent gas will provide a free first-time gas connection and heating system through its Connected for Warmth scheme.
Groundwork, which has been running the Energyworks programme for over 10 years, offers a number of services that enable people living in fuel poverty to be warmer, healthier and better off in their homes.
By providing a home health check, fuel debt advice, switching advice, tips on how to reduce damp, mould and condensation plus a number of energy saving measures (including LED energy efficiency lightbulbs, draft insulation and radiator foils) the Energyworks team have supported 2,378 homes across seven boroughs of Greater Manchester since June 2018; saving them a total of £1,718,485 in unnecessary bill payments.
The team estimates that up to 50% of the households they visit are some of the most vulnerable in society who are impacted by cold homes.
This includes people like Joan, aged 72 from Rochdale: “I have no speech due to having my larynx removed because of cancer. My speaking valves do not work so I have to use a speaking aid on my iPad to communicate and so cannot use the telephone.
“It was a great day for me when Groundwork knocked on my door to see if they could help with my energy. They sorted out the best supplier for my gas and electric and managed to get me fair prices when I have received letters about price increases; changing suppliers was the best option to save me money.
“I cannot express my gratitude to Groundwork enough. They have given me peace of mind, knowing that any energy problems will be sorted.”
The Warm and Safe Homes Campaign is run by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and is calling for greater support for those struggling to heat their homes.
Additionally, Cadent’s Connected for Warmth scheme will provide a free first-time gas connection and heating system to eligible fuel-poor homes, not currently connected to the gas network.
The scheme will be delivered across the entire Cadent gas distribution network, which includes the North West, Midlands, East of England and North London.
Cadent’s longstanding partner Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS), which has worked to lift thousands of homes out of fuel poverty over the past decade, will help deliver and fund the scheme through its Warm Homes Fund programme.
Meanwhile, AgilityEco, which works with local authorities, housing associations and charities to support households which need a helping hand, will work with AWS to provide the front-end support to the programme.
Jeremy Nesbitt, Managing Director of AWS said: “This new scheme will provide a fresh avenue out of fuel poverty for those struggling with the cost of heating their homes.”
He added: “As the temperature drops and we enter what’s projected to be a very cold winter the need for this kind of scheme has never been stronger. Connected for Warmth will be a valuable tool in the fight to ensure no one has to face the heart-breaking choice between heating and eating."
Applicants will be asked to complete a quick survey to determine their eligibility for the scheme. If successful they will receive a free gas connection, and new gas central heating system utilising the latest energy efficient boilers.
While homeowners and tenants will pay nothing toward the scheme, private landlords will need to make a small contribution to have a system installed, should their property be eligible.
The scheme is expected to run until 2021 and it is hoped that over a thousand homes could benefit.
If you are living in fuel poverty or know someone who is, please contact the Energyworks team on 0161 785 7417.
For more on Connected for Warmth and to apply, visit www.connectedforwarmth.org.uk or call 0800 029 4547.
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