£20,000 donation to help Brighton and Hove residents in cold homes

Help is on its way for those at risk in cold homes after Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative (BHESCo) teamed up with the UK’s biggest electricity distributor.

UK Power Networks, which distributes electricity across the South East, London and East of England to 8.3 million homes and businesses, has given a £20,000 grant to BHESCo under its Power Partners scheme to help people living in cold homes. BHESCo has been providing fuel poverty support in the city since 2015 and has seen a rising need for support due to the pandemic.

Their experts hope the project will reach more than 245 people with in-depth advice, support or home visits to improve energy efficiency, switch energy customers to cheaper tariffs and help people apply for financial support where possible. The team plan to visit homes in a Covid secure way to install energy saving measures such as LED lights, radiator reflector sheets, draught excluders and chimney balloons. The aim of the project is to reduce energy costs for people who are elderly, disabled, have young children in low-income homes, those shielding, facing reduced income due to Covid-19, recipients of benefits, refugees and asylum seekers and people using food banks. 

Citizens Advice estimate 600,000 people in the UK have been plunged into fuel poverty during coronavirus. As a result, helping consumers cut their energy costs is more important than ever.

Diane Smith, operations director at Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative, said: “Our service delivers energy advice and practical help via telephone and home visits to vulnerable households across Brighton and Hove, especially those whose health may be at risk because of an inability to heat their home adequately. We work closely with the other advice and support agencies in the city, such as Citizens Advice, Money Advice Plus, National Energy Action and the local authority. Through cross-referrals people are receiving broad and effective support. We are delighted to be working with UK Power Networks to extend our services at such a time of need.”

In the fourth round of funding from UK Power Networks’ Power Partners scheme, nine not-for-profit organisations and community groups have secured a total of around £180,000, to help combat the growing issue of fuel poverty during the pandemic. The aim is to support community services to reach more people with help including energy efficiency advice, tariff switching and support for frontline charity workers.

Giulia Privitera, social sustainability strategy and programme manager for UK Power Networks, said: “Our fuel poverty strategy is built around the evolving needs of our customers and relies on creating strong partnerships with local organisations, like BHESCo, who deliver energy advice and support out in the communities where it is needed the most. 

“Since 2019 our Power Partners projects have explored new ways to tackle fuel poverty and have already made a real impact for people who struggle to pay their energy bills. The growing financial difficulties caused by an unprecedented pandemic means that providing accessible and timely support in helping energy consumers cut their costs is more important than ever.

“For this reason, we decided to increase the funding granted for the fourth round of Power Partners to be able to support more individuals or communities who are experiencing emerging vulnerabilities or entering into fuel poverty as a result of the pandemic. Year on year, through our Power Partners and other energy saving initiatives, UK Power Networks continues to deliver tailored support for hard to reach communities that otherwise could have been left behind.”

The fund, administered in partnership with leading energy justice charity the Centre for Sustainable Energy, is open to not-for-profit organisations and community organisations. For more details email powerpartners@cse.org.uk or call 0117 934 1400.

UK Power Networks also runs a Priority Service Register which people living in vulnerable circumstances can sign up for, to get free extra help if a power cut ever happens. To apply visit www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priorityservices, ring 0800 169 9970, or email psr@ukpowernetworks.co.uk

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