Today, I spoke at the launch of the North Wales Energy Advice Centre (NWEAC).
NWEAC have recently been announced to receive Phase 4 of the NEA, DECC and British Gas Community Action Awards – this award supports projects across the UK tackling fuel poverty within local communities. As part of the award, NWEAC will receive funding to kick start the new ‘Community Energy Hug’ project. They were one of five successful winners.
NWEAC provides specialist free and impartial energy advice to households across North Wales, with the aim of reducing fuel poverty. They work in partnership with Flintshire County Council to deliver their Affordable Warmth Scheme which assists ‘vulnerable and in need’ households across Flintshire. They provide a variety of services including full in-house assessment, suggest behavioural changes, help to switch suppliers, tackle fuel debt, and provide assistance via grant application and/or crisis funding to implement new energy measures. This is something they are hoping to expand as part of the new project.
I spoke on the worrying statistics on Fuel Poverty both locally and nationally. In Wales 1 in 3 households are in fuel poverty – that is approximately 285,000 households. In north Wales 22.7% of households are in fuel poverty – that’s a deeply concerning 75,000 households.
In July 2010 the Welsh Assembly Government published a new Fuel Poverty Strategy which aims to reduce the number of households currently living in fuel poverty in Wales, and to take action that will help to achieve the target that, as far as is reasonably practicable, no households in Wales will be living in fuel poverty by 2018.
The strategy sets out the objectives of the new Fuel Poverty Programme, known as Nest, which replaced the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) in April 2011.
British Gas, The Welsh Government and the Energy Savings Trust are working together to implement this new scheme. Nest offers eligible householders a range of free home improvements to enable them to heat their homes more efficiently. These improvements include loft and cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation, draft proofing and boiler replacement.
Flintshire County Council are also providing support to those struggling with fuel bills. In 2014/15 Flintshire County Council reported that 417 council homes were receiving energy efficiency measures, which reduced council tenant’s annual fuel bills by £121,451. Also, in 2014/15 Flintshire County Council reported that 422 private homes were receiving energy efficiency measures, which reduced annual fuel bills by £244,360.
The efforts of both the Welsh Assembly Government and Flintshire County Council should be commended. They are working hard to end fuel poverty in north Wales, bringing household bills down.
Pictured [right to left] Cllr. Kevin Jones, Shirley Tate – British Gas, Cllr. Tony Chilton, David Hanson MP, Steve Woosey – Flintshire New Account