What difference can an organisation like CSE make?
Like any healthy business we ask ourselves this question from time to time (whilst avoiding excessive introspection). The trouble is that record-keeping wasn’t exactly a hallmark of our early years – and we still struggle to keep tabs on the impact of all of our activities – but our best guess is that, since we were founded in 1979, we have:
- Provided high-quality, tailored energy advice to more than 365,000 local people to help them take control of their energy use at home.
- Trained and supported more than 68,000 people to empower them to take action on sustainable energy within their own organisations and communities across the UK, either as volunteers or in their professional lives.
- Reached approximately 56,000 young people with our high-quality education and youth leadership programmes, helping them become influential energy activists in their own homes, communities and schools. (Though if teachers have done what they tell us – carried on using the resources in future years – the total could be several times this.)
In the last financial year alone (April 2020 to March 2021) we supported 14,850 households with 21,337 separate enquiries, collectively saving them more than £2.7m (i.e. an average of approximately £191 per household). The vast majority of these clients were either in fuel poverty or at risk of fuel poverty – including a significant proportion with a listed health condition.
Additionally in the last year we have supported around 3,500 community representatives, volunteers, local authority representatives, teachers and young people. This includes providing support to 162 separate community groups and 45 neighbourhood planning groups, delivering 158 events attended by 2,330 people, working with over 300 local authority officers and councillors and running schools workshops and programmes supporting more than 1,000 young people.
We’ve also stimulated national policy change and development in the specific fields of:
- Public consent for action to cut UK emissions.
- Social justice as a key component of the transition to a smarter, decarbonised energy system (e.g. Smart and Fair?).
- Public access to energy sector data, models and tools; guidance from NICE for the health and social care sectors on tackling the health impacts of cold homes (e.g. THERMOS).
- Area-based targeting of fuel poverty programmes; improved consumer feedback on their energy consumption.
- better policing of energy suppliers’ so-called ‘social tariffs’ and greater stimulus for energy network companies social programmes.
- New performance targets for local authorities on climate change and fuel poverty.
- Community engagement in sustainable energy developments.
It is even harder to measure our real impact on carbon dioxide emissions since much of our work is about changing policy or enabling others to take action, rather than direct carbon reduction interventions of our own. But we’ve tried: we think that measures installed as a result of our home energy advice work alone have led to a reduction in lifetime carbon dioxide emissions of over 3.5m tonnes.