Thousands of people currently struggling to pay energy bills while at home and out of work are set to benefit after a community scheme was today repurposed to help those most affected by Covid-19.
Community organisations and charities which help households in fuel poverty, can now apply for a share in a £300,000 fuel poverty innovation scheme by UK Power Networks. The news comes just days after the company also led a collaboration of eight utilities to donate £500,000 to 21 Community Foundations which help local good causes.
Through the newly-repurposed £300,000 Power Partners scheme, support is now available to organisations who have found new ways to help many people facing fuel poverty particularly during the current travel restrictions.
Kerry Potter consumer vulnerability manager for UK Power Networks, which delivers electricity to 8.3 million homes and businesses, said: “We are aiming to help the people who are most affected by the social or financial impact of Covid-19.
“We’re always keen to find innovative ways to adapt our community support, and leading the collaboration to give £500,000 to Community Foundations was an example of regional utilities working together for local communities, through local partnerships. Power Partners is also about developing partnerships which deliver real help locally.
“In the current climate of self-isolation more people will be struggling with their bills and unable to go to ‘safe’ community places to get advice and support. Through Power Partners we can work with local charities and organisations who have found effective ways to help people in vulnerable circumstances both during the lockdown and afterwards, and make a real difference.”
When Power Partners first launched last year it was designed to help alleviate fuel poverty and also fund energy efficiency improvements for community buildings. The scheme benefited 24 organisations including:
The charity deafPLUS trained advisors to help deaf clients with fuel debt to maximise their income and to budget. The funding also meant they could publish online advice and make a series of British Sign Language (BSL) videos about how to get help with fuel debts.
Community energy cooperative Energise Sussex Coast is using an electric van funded by Power Partners to distribute food supplies to people who are ill and self-isolating using an electric van funded by Power Partners. During social isolation the team are also delivering support to children who would usually get free school meals.
Power Partners is administered in partnership with leading energy justice charity the Centre for Sustainable Energy.
Applications are now open to charities and community organisations across London, the East and South East until midnight on May 31. For more information and application forms see https://www.cse.org.uk/projects/view/1356