New energy efficiency grant scheme in place following lobbying by NEA
The Social Security Act 1990 contained provision for a new system of grants for low-income households – the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) – to provide grants for draught-proofing, loft insulation and energy advice. This followed intervention by Rt Hon Lord Newton, then Secretary of State for Social Security and now President of NEA, without which there would have been no legislative framework for grants to assist fuel-poor households.
The combination of NEA’s lobbying skills and good reputation had enabled the community energy project network to survive the potential crises resulting from the abolition of single payments and the introduction of Employment Training.
With the introduction of HEES, NEA’s special projects now focused on innovative areas such as additional energy efficiency measures; delivering assistance to rural areas; working with black and minority ethnic communities; improving energy advice and awareness raising; and energy education.
NEA continued to focus on building its reputation as a major provider of training and certification in domestic energy efficiency by ensuring the highest possible standards in the delivery of training programmes. During 1990/91 NEA initiated the development of National Vocational Qualifications and increased the number of skills examination centres. By now, more than 2,500 people had accessed training and NVQ provision.
“The appointment of Neighbourhood Energy Action as the administering agency is an important step towards the introduction of the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme. NEA will have a vital role to play and the success of the scheme will depend heavily on the effectiveness of the agency in that role.”
Tony Baldry MP, Under-Secretary of State for Energy, 1990
Establishment of the Energy Action Grants Agency (EAGA) by NEA in 1990
The Government, having decided that the new Home Energy Efficiency Scheme should be administered by an independent national agency, invited tenders to establish the agency and NEA was awarded the contract in October 1990. The Energy Action Grants Agency
(EAGA) was established by NEA in 1990 and became operational in January 1991 with an annual budget for HEES of £26 million. The Eaga Group went on to employ thousands of people worldwide from its headquarters in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Healthy Homes, Healthy Planet
NEA was a founding partner in the first Government co-ordinated information service for vulnerable people – Keep Warm, Keep Well, funded by the Department of Health and Social Security. The campaign ran from 1987 and each winter distributed around one million information packs and received on average 20,000 calls. NEA still actively engages with health professionals of a local level. In October 1990, NEA organised a major conference, Green House or Greenhouse: Local action to tackle global warming, jointly sponsored by BP, the Energy Efficiency Office and the City of Newcastle. The aim was to demonstrate how energy efficiency can meet both social and environmental objectives as a remedy to fuel poverty and global warming. NEA’s practical achievements over the first 10 years were significant. However, the value of NEA’s work extended far beyond this, not least in the charity’s ability to secure funding and support from the private sector to complement that of central government. From its earliest days NEA was supported by major energy companies included British Gas, Powergen, Esso and East Midlands Electricity. Support for NEA also enabled the energy industries to demonstrate their commitment to social issues.
By April 1991 NEA had reached the stage where significant funding was raised from non-government sources, enabling diversification into other areas of work and policy development in the next decade.
“The problem of Global Warming and the continuing build-up of the greenhouse gases is one which requires action at all levels. This conference organised by Neighbourhood Energy Action in Newcastle today illustrates not only how much has already begun in the UK, but also the significant impact local initiatives can make on a world-wide problem.”
William Rickett, Director General of the Energy Efficiency Office