£20,000 grant to combat fuel poverty in Rother and Eastbourne

Maximising income for people living in fuel poverty in Eastbourne and Rother is the aim of two community groups that have joined forces with an electricity firm.

Energise Sussex Coast and the Hastings Advice and Representation Centre (HARC), which have a strong record of addressing fuel poverty, have received a £20,000 grant from UK Power Networks to extend their income boosting work in two East Sussex boroughs.

The project aims to help people living in cold and damp homes, older people, refugees and asylum seekers and those with mental health problems, as well as those eligible to receive benefits. The funding will extend the Energy Advice telephone helpline across East Sussex and support pop-up energy advice clinics, increase access to benefits, help people budget and improve people’s homes so they are warmer and healthier. Their experts will work with local groups, such as food banks and Age UK, to reach those who need help.

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.

Richard Watson, CEO of Energise Sussex Coast, said: “Until now we have predominantly worked in Hastings and Rother, as Hastings has some extreme pockets of deprivation. For this new project, we are delighted to work with UK Power Networks to extend our help to the most vulnerable households across East Sussex. 

“By giving vulnerable individuals better access to welfare and benefits, as well as energy advice and support with budgeting, this project aims to address some of the wider causes of fuel poverty.

“Covid-19 will increase the number of vulnerable people through poor health, isolation and poverty. A key intervention under Covid-19 restrictions will be that we can offer to pick up, top up and return meter keys and cards for residents on prepayment meters who are sheltering.”

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 Energise Sussex Coast and HARC, 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/priority, ring 0800 169 9970, or email psr@ukpowernetworks.co.uk

Energy Advisor

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