Due to the April 2022 price cap rise, the number of fuel poor households in England has increased from 2.5 to 5 million, and it is projected that the October price cap rise will see 32% of English households in fuel stress according to Resolution Foundation. In this context it is important to support households experiencing, and at risk of, fuel poverty, to minimise the impact of the energy crisis.
Government statistics suggest 15% of fuel poor households in England live in social housing, and as winter 2022 approaches, it is important to ensure your organisation is prepared to help your tenants facing high energy bills. The 2017 Clean Growth Strategy has set the target of all fuel poor homes having an EPC rating of at least C by 2030, and stock improvements are key to achieving Net Zero goals.
This training course is designed for the social housing sector and will equip you with a better understanding of how energy prices and fuel poverty impact your residents, and strategies to address fuel poverty both through engaging with tenants to help them reduce their energy bills, and through gaining an understanding of how stock improvements can be carried out effectively.
- Gain an in depth understanding of energy use in housing and what affects energy bills
- Evaluate which of your tenants may be at risk of fuel poverty and the consequences fuel poverty may have on their health and other areas of their lives
- Discuss housing stock improvements which will reduce fuel poverty and help you reach Net Zero goals
- Learn key principles for engaging with ‘hard to reach’ residents at risk of fuel poverty and how to sensitively broach conversations around energy bills
- Develop an action plan for how you will tackle fuel poverty in winter 2022 and beyond
- Breakdown the learning goals for the course
- Get to know the trainer and other delegates
- Quick light-hearted energy quiz in pairs to establish existing levels of knowledge
- Understanding how we use energy in the home:
- Space heating – different types of heating systems, gas/electric/oil
- Hot water
- Breaking down details of the average energy bills (gas and electric)
- Understanding the full impact of energy price cap increases
- Evaluating the causes of fuel poverty from inefficient energy use to high energy prices, low incomes, and under occupation
- Understanding the consequences of fuel poverty from ill health and excess winter deaths to underspending on other areas
- How to identify those at risk of fuel poverty, what proxies you can use for unavailable data such as residents’ income and fuel costs, and how to interpret the data you do have access to
- Discussing approaches to identifying those at risk and how to sensitively broach the subject with residents
In this workshop session delegates will be encouraged to take stock of where they are currently at with regards to their fuel poverty strategies and discuss specific issues and solutions with their peers.
- Brainstorm strategies to tackle fuel poverty
- How can landlords reduce fuel poverty through stock improvements?
- How can tenants reduce fuel poverty through energy purchasing and efficient use?
Throughout the day delegates will discuss potential solutions with the trainer and their peers. In this session delegates will look at the impact of retrofitting on energy bills.
- Understand how stock improvements can help reduce fuel poverty and contribute to Net Zero goals
- Discuss low carbon heating solutions, insulation, and renewable energies
- Evaluate the whole building approach Portsmouth City Council took to improving energy efficiency in Wilmcote House
- Examine the effect of the retrofit on comfort for residents and on energy bills
- Discuss the challenges to carrying out a large scale retrofit with residents in situ and how to engage tenants who may oppose changes
- Strategies to cut energy costs and debt, such as switching providers, using the Warm Homes Discount, accessing energy trust grants, using smart meters and tariffs effectively
- Advice to give tenants on how to cut fuel bills
- Identifying ‘hard to reach’ groups, such as residents with disabilities, residents with mental health problems, minority-ethnic communities, etc.
- Understanding which groups it is most important to engage with, such as those most likely to suffer ill health due to fuel poverty
- Evaluating key tenant engagement principles to ensure you understand your audience and who to work with to reach hard to reach groups, and the importance of using imagery to overcome language barriers
Sovereign Housing Association has been taking action to support its most vulnerable residents throughout winter 2020 and 2021 by providing fuel vouchers. Going forwards Sovereign Housing is also offering a free telephone service to its residents to help them take steps to reduce energy bills, overcoming the digital and time barriers which often prevent residents from reducing bills.
- Examine how Sovereign Housing managed to provide assistance to its most vulnerable residents throughout the pandemic through fuel vouchers
- Discuss how this approach will continue going forwards
- Evaluate new approaches Sovereign Housing is pioneering, such as providing a telephone service to help residents take energy efficiency steps to reduce bills
- In groups based on job functions, identify key opportunities to tackle fuel poverty
- Each group will produce an action plan
- Evaluate what action you will take within your organisation