The Energy Care project has helped carers across Liverpool lower their household fuel costs by advising them on energy efficiency measures, assisting them to switch supplier to get a cheaper deal and advising how to access what other help is available. This could be in the form of Warm Home Discount, charitable grants to write off arrears or for the purchase of more energy efficient “white goods”.
The focus of the project was to assist carers who are in fuel poverty. Carers are rarely paid and the energy costs within a household for somebody who requires care are disproportionately higher. Carers tend to be excluded financially due to little or no income, socially isolated and have many constraints on time meaning that they rarely have the capacity to look at alternative tariffs.
Energy Care has made carers more knowledgeable about how to save money across a range of expenditure, including energy bills, car insurance, and house insurance. Service users have seen a reduction in costs without compromising the quality of life or health and well-being and would subsequently enjoy an increase in their disposable household income. Support with switching has dispelled fears that had prohibited carers from switching such as accidental disconnection, associated bureaucracy and the setting up of new payments plans.
Liverpool Community Advice worked with a variety of organisations to effectively target carers including the Alzheimer’s Society, The Brain Trust and Mencap which led to an increase in referrals to the Energy Care project. Helen Fisher, Financial Capability Trainer at Liverpool Community Advice said ‘the key to success is networking and working with other agencies, sharing information with them so that everybody can work towards the benefit of the client’.
A client who has benefitted from Energy Care, David Archibold explained that the service supported him by getting his energy tariff changed to one that was around £100 lower per annum. The integrated approach allowed David to also save around £100 on home insurance, car insurance which was necessary for him in his caring duties, and saving on PPI. David is on a pension but is slightly above the threshold for pension credit. Liverpool Community Advice is looking into David being able to receive attendance allowance for his volunteering as a carer.
Liverpool Community Advice has received funding from other agencies so the Energy Care project will be continuing.