Energy group-buying programme announces £12,000 fuel poverty fund
Cornwall Together, the ground-breaking collective energy-buying group, has announced that its Fuel Poverty Fund will be distributing more than £12,000 this winter to Cornish households in fuel poverty.
The money was raised from the first two rounds of the group-buying programme, the first of which was just for Cornwall. The second round was extended to projects in Birmingham and Solihull, Exeter and Scotland under the banner of UK Together. Up to ten per cent of the revenue generated from each energy switch under the project was dedicated to the fund.
In total, people who switched their energy supplier through a Cornwall Together or UK Together project have saved more than £430,000 on their energy bills.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change supported the second phase of Cornwall Together as part of its Cheaper Energy Together programme.
Cornwall Together was devised to showcase a collective model for engagement that could be used to encourage change. The project engaged 50 per cent more people in fuel poverty than were present in the general population with 28 per cent of people who switched in the second round being officially in fuel poverty. However, 53 per cent of members were struggling to pay their bills, indicating the fuel poverty problem is worse than official figures show.
These findings were recently shared by the Cornwall Together team at a meeting with Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, who said: “Community energy projects provide a number of significant benefits for local communities and this new Fuel Poverty Fund is a great example with more than £12,000 this winter going to Cornish households to help them keep warm.
“I want to see many more community groups following the lead of Cornwall Together and taking control of how they reduce, generate and buy their energy.”
The money will be spent supporting the Winter Wellness emergency fund. Winter Wellness is a partnership of over 30 public, charitable and business organisations, that aims to reduce fuel poverty, improve health and support progress to work.
The emergency fund aims to prevent winter deaths and offer help, support and advice to make a home warmer. Winter Wellness offers support if you are an older person, caring for young children, in poor health or at risk of ill health and worried about your home being cold, damp or mouldy.
Matt Hastings, Cornwall Together Project Manager, said: “Cornwall Together did a lot to increase awareness of energy issues and managed to save households around the county significant amounts of money on their bills.
“However, with energy bills still rising and household incomes being squeezed, fuel poverty is still a major problem. We hope that this fund can go some way to help those who need most support.”
Julian German, portfolio holder for economy and culture at Cornwall Council said: “I am delighted that Cornwall Together has delivered on its promise to invest a proportion of its revenues into this fund where it will be targeted at the most vulnerable households in Cornwall.
“It is vital that we continue to work hard to change the relationship that many people have with energy and rising bills, and this investment will make a small but meaningful contribution.”
Anthony Ball, Tackling Inequalities Coordinator at Public Health Cornwall and Isles of Scilly said: “Keeping warm is vital to staying healthy and active, particularly for those who are more vulnerable to the cold. One of our top priorities is to prevent unnecessary deaths from cold weather.”
Conceived by the Eden Project, Cornwall Together was developed by Eden, Cornwall Council, the NHS and Community Energy Plus, aiming to bring people together to reduce fuel poverty, encourage sustainability and community resilience.
They were joined by Cornwall-based energy platform, energyshare, and uSwitch, the independent price comparison and switching service.
Cornwall Together is supported by some of Cornwall’s leading organisations and employers. St. Austell Brewery, Unison, CAB Cornwall, Locality, Age UK Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Cornwall Housing, Ocean Housing, Volunteer Cornwall and Cornwall Rural Community Council have promoted it to their staff and members.
Fuel poverty is when a household needs to spend more than 10 per cent of its income to maintain adequate heating although this definition has recently been revised taking into account those households with a low income and high bills.
Those who would like to register their interest in being involved in any future rounds of Cornwall Together can still do so by visiting the website (www.cornwalltogether.com).