Across Shropshire many households struggle to heat their homes adequately. For many this means spending more than 10% of their income on heating, and for others it can mean making difficult decisions about whether to heat or eat during cold spells.
People living in rural areas often live in larger, older properties of solid wall construction, which are more costly to heat. These homes are less likely to be connected to the mains gas grid and therefore their choice of heating is limited to more costly options such as coal, oil or LPG. As a result, Shropshire has one of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the country.
To tackle this problem, Shropshire RCC set up the ‘Affordable Warmth for All’ project. The project brings together a team of organisations and volunteers to identify and address fuel poverty in local communities.
We have a team of volunteer Affordable Warmth Champions trained to give reliable information on:
- making your home more energy efficient,
- budgeting for your fuel costs
- special energy tariffs for those struggling to pay their heating bills,
- how to read your energy bill,
- how to access a free home energy audit,
- grants and loans available to fund affordable warmth and energy efficiency measures in the home
- where to go for financial help in an emergency (eg boiler break down)
We work with several local projects and services to ensure that people who are struggling to heat their home receive all of the help they are entitled to. This includes Food Banks, Credit Unions and specialist energy projects such as Stretton Climate Care, Home Energy Services, Marches Energy Agency and Ludlow 21. Housing Associations are also closely involved with the project.
Read on to find out why fuel poverty is a particular priority in Shropshire.
Fuel Poverty a priority in Shropshiremore
Shropshire has one of the highest rates of rural fuel poverty in the country. The county’s housing stock is typically made up of larger, older properties of solid wall construction, which are more costly to heat. These homes are less likely to be connected to the mains gas grid and therefore their choice of heating is limited to more costly options such as coal, oil or LPG. Shropshire has a low wage economy, which increases the level of ‘in work’ poverty. Following recent Welfare Reforms, low income families are being affected by the spare room subsidy and are may be unable to move to smaller properties due to limited available housing in rural areas. Where smaller properties are found, poor energy efficiency can mean higher bills, perpetuating the strain on the family income.
It is not uncommon to find households spending in excess of 25% of their income on heating their homes, nor is it unusual to find people taking radical steps to survive fuel poverty such as living without any heating, living in a single room or moving into a caravan on their properties. Families are making difficult decisions between heating and eating, and the number of people using the county’s seven Food Banks to supplement their food budget has risen during the last 12 months.
Affordable Warmth Champion:
We are looking for people who can encourage and inspire local people to implement energy efficiency measures. Affordable Warmth Champions will learn to identify the signs of fuel poverty and help people to make their home heating more affordable. This could be by helping them to change their energy use behaviour, switch their energy tariff/supplier, put in place practical energy efficiency measures (insulation, draught exclusion) or access grants and benefits that they are entitled to.
An Affordable Warmth Champion does not need to be an expert in energy efficiency. We need people with enthusiasm for saving energy and willing to give some of their time for the benefit of their community, particularly vulnerable people. Full training will be given and travel expenses covered.
For more information, contact Clive Leworthy, Affordable Warmth Project Officer on 01743 342172 or email email@example.com