12,000 Cardiff residents more energy savvy thanks to training scheme

22 September 2015

More than 12,000 people in Cardiff are now more energy savvy thanks to an initiative aimed at helping communities have warmer homes and cheaper fuel bills.

Since the start of the year, almost 140 frontline workers from across the city have been trained to help residents take control of their gas and electricity usage.

The training sessions give advice on how people can make their homes more energy efficient, deal with fuel debt and switch energy suppliers.

Those trained include financial advisors, support workers, health visitors, local authority and housing association officers, as well as landlords and letting agents, who are now passing on the important advice to residents they meet.

It’s estimated that every person trained will help an average of 15 people in the local community each month, meaning that thousands of people have already benefitted from the scheme.

The project is part of the £1.2 million Community Action Partnership (CAP) delivered by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action Cymru and Cardiff Council, and funded by British Gas.

Since completing the training, Suzy Youngman, a fuel debt adviser at Speakeasy Advice Centre in Cardiff, has helped 149 people in the community.

Suzy said: “I see clients on a daily basis who have fallen into difficulties with their household bills. Many are unsure how they can improve their situation and are unaware of the support available.

“The training I received through the Cardiff Community Action Partnership has helped me give the best possible advice to clients and show them that there are solutions available to them.”

One Cardiff resident Suzy dealt with had been struggling with her health and had fallen into arrears with gas and electricity payments while she was in hospital. Her concerns about expenditure meant that she rarely put the heating on when she returned home, which further affected her health.

Suzy was able to contact the lady’s energy supplier and negotiate a new repayment plan. Suzy applied to The British Gas Energy Trust for further help, and the trust awarded her client just under £300 to clear her arrears in full.

Cabinet Member for Environment at City of Cardiff Council, Cllr Bob Derbyshire said: “The training offered seems to be making a real difference in terms of ensuring that advisors are able to offer the very latest advice to residents on energy efficiency and finding the best supplier. We are very pleased to be part of a partnership which is helping to combat fuel poverty in Cardiff.”

Carole Morgan-Jones, director, National Energy Action Cymru, commented: “We want everyone to have a warm home and have access to advice and support if they’re worried about paying their energy bills. The British Gas-funded Community Action Partnership in Cardiff is an example of how we can support the Welsh Government’s plan to address the impact of fuel poverty on people in Wales.”

Christine Tate, head of corporate responsibility at British Gas, said: “Our work with National Energy Action Cymru is helping many people in need across Cardiff and Wales, making warmer, more energy efficient homes for residents, and cheaper fuel bills, too.”

Click here to find out more about the Community Action Partnership.

ENDS

For all enquiries, please contact Carole Morgan-Jones, tel 029 2022 9322 / 07720591403

Notes to Editors

  • The Community Action Partnership is a national programme delivered by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) and British Gas, in partnership with councils across the UK. It will help bring affordable energy and improve the lives and prosperity of residents through practical activities in eight localities across England and Wales, equipping the local community with the tools they need to deal with fuel poverty in the future
  • NEA is the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity campaigning for affordable warmth. For further details visit www.nea.org.uk.
  • The attached case studies provide two examples of how the fuel poverty and fuel debt training has helped support people in Cardiff experiencing difficulties managing their energy bills.
  • Fuel poverty results from a combination of factors: low household income; energy prices; and inadequate heating and insulation standards. The consequences of fuel poverty range from psychological distress, social isolation and physical discomfort to illness and, in the most extreme cases, premature death.
  • In Wales, fuel poverty is defined as the need to spend over 10% of household income on fuel costs to maintain adequate warmth for health and comfort. Almost 1 in 3 (30%) of households in Wales were living in fuel poverty in 2012, equating to 386,000 homes. 328,000 of these are believed to be vulnerable households (containing a child, older person, or someone who is disabled or has a long-term illness). http://wales.gov.uk/docs/caecd/research/130430-wales-fuel-poverty-projection-tool-2011-12-report-en.pdf
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