In December, we said goodbye to our Chief Executive, Jenny Saunders, after more than 30 years of service at NEA and welcomed Adam Scorer to take over the helm at the charity and bring its development forward into the next phase of the policy landscape.
Working with UK Government, NEA contributed to positive outcomes in relation to the next phase of the Energy Company Obligation, the extension of the Warm Home Discount scheme, new powers within the Digital Economy Act, the design of a default tariff price cap, Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements on private landlords and the Clean Growth Strategy. NEA responded to consultations by the UK Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive and their agencies to shape strategic action on fuel poverty. Evidence for our responses was based on NEA’s own research findings, policy analysis and input from NEA members and partners. We also helped shape Ofgem’s pricecap for prepayment meter customers and its extension to other groups of vulnerable consumers.
Throughout the year NEA set the policy agenda with reports and briefings highlighting key issues for fuel poor households including:
Bridging the Gap revealed over 1 million fuel poor families in England will not have the cash to meet basic living expenses this winter, and that some families are facing an income shortfall of up to £9,331 per year to cover basic essentials, including energy;
Understanding Carbon Monoxide Risks in Households Vulnerable to Fuel Poverty investigated the relationship between fuel poverty and carbon monoxide risk;
Heat Decarbonisation: potential impacts on social equity and fuel poverty investigated the approaches, costs and benefits associated with the drive to reduce the carbon impact of domestic
Cold Homes and Excess Winter Deaths, published with E3G, investigated the extent to which excess winter mortality is exacerbated by UK homes not being resilient to the cold.
NEA continued to deliver Warm Home Discount Industry Initiative projects, working in partnership with four energy suppliers to deliver six projects totalling £1.25 million. Through these almost 4,000 households were provided with advice and support.
We continued to manage the Big Energy Saving Network and developed the Reactive Repair Service working with Cadent to deliver a reactive repair and replacement service for low-income and vulnerable households when disconnected on safety grounds.
NEA partnered with the Royal British Legion in Derby to deliver our new Forces for Warmth project. Forces for Warmth provided veterans and their families living in fuel poverty with energy advice and access to a crisis loan. Over the year we developed the project and ended up working with around 20 different organisations which support ex-service personnel. NEA’s Forces for Warmth team has helped alleviate fuel debts, given advice on energy efficiency and switching and supported referrals for physical measures such as new heating systems, thermal improvements and emergency top-ups for prepayment meters. Around 200 ex-service personnel received help through the project, not only providing support when needed, but also life skills to avoid further issues and stress in the future.
For people diagnosed with cancer, fuel expenses are a big concern. NEA partnered initially with Macmillan and subsequently with around 20 other local organisations working with households where someone has been diagnosed with cancer. This multi-faceted programme provided training to local organisations about the impacts of living in a cold home whilst living with cancer and energy advice direct to households. This was complemented by a measures fund to repair heating systems and install new boilers.
Take Control and the Wales Fuel Debt programme provided training to frontline workers to equip them with the skills to help customers in debt to their energy supplier. In Northern Ireland, the Northern Exposure project, which has been running for over ten years, continued to work with primary healthcare staff in partnership with Belfast Health Trust Respiratory Team. Healthcare professionals refer vulnerable households for assistance and typically they receive support to access grants for insulation and central heating measures.