At last night’s Executive Meeting I presented, and had accepted an initiative called the Help to Heat and ECO Scheme. It is a scheme aimed at utilising Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding to make energy efficiency upgrades to some of the least energy efficient houses across our borough. In doing so we can help alleviate the impact of Fuel Poverty that results in some in our community facing a choice each year between Eating and Heating.

I was honoured to introduce this scheme on behalf of the officers who had gone out and found the initiative, worked through the details and then created the scheme. Below is the text of the speech I gave introducing the paper for Executive approval.

“There is an obvious environmental benefit to this program that I am sure everyone can see, improving the energy efficiency of some of our least efficient homes will help us reduce carbon and wasted energy use. But there is also another benefit to this project that I want to draw members attention too.

One in ten households in the U.K. are affected by Fuel Poverty. For many that do, winter brings with it a heartbreaking choice; Eating or Heating?

This programme aims to help alleviate the affects of fuel poverty, not by one off supply of money, but by funding home upgrades aimed at improving a home’s energy efficiency and consequently dramatically cutting home energy costs.

Across Wokingham Borough there are approximately 1800 houses with an energy rating of E, F and G, the three lowest EPC energy efficiency ratings. The difference between heating identically sized 3 bedroom houses rated G vs rated D is currently £516 a year (£43 a month), a 27% saving. Unfortunately many of these E, F & G houses are currently occupied by some of the lowest income, most vulnerable, eldest or most at risk in our community. These households are likely therefore to be the ones least able to undertake energy improvement measures otherwise.

With this program we are accessing the Energy Companies Obligation fund and using that money to pay for energy saving upgrades to properties with absolutely no cost paid by residents and with 100% of the savings kept by them.

As part of this scheme areas where we know there is ‘fuel poverty’ will be specifically targeted with hand delivered letters advertising the scheme. Residents in these areas will be invited to apply, so, until that time there is no action for residents to take. There will also be an extensive media and PR campaign.

Using Energy Companies Obligation funds we could potentially help up too 400 houses across our borough this year. There is also potential to help more homes in the future.

This is a fantastic program Chairman, and one that can make a significant difference to the lives of many across our borough by helping to alleviate the impact of fuel poverty on a number of our residents.

I recommend to members of the Executive that this paper is adopted and the required measures implemented.”

Over the coming years numerous households across our borough will benefit from this scheme and will have the affects of Fuel Poverty alleviated for them. I am proud to have played a part in making it happen.

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