Charities secure more than £175,760 to combat fuel poverty in COVID-19

Nine non-profit organisations and community groups have secured £175,760 in funding to help combat the growing issue of fuel poverty during the coronavirus pandemic.

The grants from UK Power Networks will be used to target hard-to-reach communities including people who have disabilities as well as those who live in cold, damp homes. The aim is to support services such as energy efficiency advice, interventions, tariff switching, time of use tariff awareness and support for frontline workers.

The electricity firm’s Power Partners community scheme invests around £300,000 a year, with individual grants of up to £20,000 available. Citizens Advice estimate 600,000 people in the UK have been plunged into fuel poverty during coronavirus. As a result, helping consumers cut their energy costs, is more important than ever.

Funding is available to groups based across UK Power Networks’ distribution area of London, the East and South East of England. One organisation that is benefitting this round is Groundworks South. The company will use its £20,000 grant to help the vulnerable in Kent reduce their energy bills and improve the energy efficiency of their home. Diverse FM, a radio station with strong background in community engagement in the East of England, will use their £16,500 grant to create a new team of multi-lingual energy champions and engage and support hard to reach individuals and communities in and around Luton.

Giulia Privitera, social sustainability strategy and programme manager for UK Power Networks, comments: “Our fuel poverty strategy is built around the evolving needs of our customers and relies on creating strong partnerships with local organisations who deliver energy advice and support out in the communities where it is needed the most.

“Since 2019 our Power Partners projects have explored new ways to tackle fuel poverty and have already made a real impact for people who struggle to pay their energy bills. The growing financial difficulties caused by an unprecedented pandemic means that providing accessible and timely support in helping energy consumers cut their costs is more important than ever.

“For this reason, we decided to increase the funding granted for the fourth round of Power Partners to be able to support more individuals or communities who are experiencing emerging vulnerabilities or entering into fuel poverty as a result of the pandemic. Year on year, through our Power Partners and other energy saving initiatives, UK Power Networks continue to deliver tailored support to hard to reach communities that otherwise could have been left behind.”

Bridget Newbery, senior project manager at the Centre for Sustainable Energy adds: “We have been working for the last 40 years to tackle fuel poverty and climate change, and we’re really pleased to be administering the Power Partners scheme.

“This funding means a wide range of organisations can support individuals at a time when saving energy is more of an issue than ever. Funded organisations are helping people with things like tariff switching, understanding energy bills, and using energy at home more efficiently.”

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