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Green Doctors write ‘prescription’ to fight fuel poverty in Thanet, Dover, Dartford, Gravesham and Medway

A Green Doctors *fuel poverty scheme to help vulnerable people in Kent to reduce their energy bills has received a funding boost.

From News & press - 22 March 2021 12:00 AM

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Groundwork South Trust has received a £19,360 donation from UK Power Networks to support Spark-Plus, an in-depth energy advice service to support 800 people across Thanet, Dover, Dartford, Gravesham and Medway in Kent.

Louise Shrubsole, senior project officer, Green Doctor Programme, said: “‘Our Spark-Plus programme will provide in-depth energy support to vulnerable and digitally-excluded groups living in Kent, using our innovative Green Doctor model to help them reduce their energy bills, improve domestic energy efficiency, and ultimately move out of fuel poverty. Normally available as a home visit, we are currently delivering the service via a no cost phone consultation booked through our Freephone number 0800 233 5255. We are delighted to work with UK Power Networks to help combat fuel poverty and are grateful for their support to the service.”

Groundwork South Trust works with local communities across the South of England to deliver social action and environmental projects that create positive change. This includes protecting and improving green spaces, helping individuals to overcome significant challenges, such as poverty and isolation, and building communities that are more resilient. 

The funding will enable the charity to recruit an engagement officer to support vulnerable, hard-to-reach groups, running one-to-one and group energy advice workshops. The new project will focus on parts of Thanet, Dover, Dartford, Gravesham and Medway, which have fuel poverty at up to 13%, which is likely to have increased due to the pandemic. 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.

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 Groundwork South Trust, 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