The Centre for Sustainable Energy communities team administered the Power Partners project on behalf of UK Power Networks.
Between 2018 and 2023, CSE worked on this project worth over £1m, awarding £962,000 in grants to organisations across the UK Power Networks area to help address fuel poverty, increase energy awareness, and improve energy resilience.
Local organisations, embedded in their communities, are often the go-to place for people who don’t know where else to get help – or how to ask for it.
With the cost-of-living crisis and the price of energy going up, more people than ever needed support.
CSE worked with UK Power Networks to develop a funding competition, select grant recipients, support organisations with their projects and with reporting, and provide energy advice and support.
Life changing support through projects
58 projects used funding to provide life changing advice and support to people in their local communities.
The activities were wide ranging including fuel vouchers, slow cooker workshops, thermal imaging, and de-cluttering services. A bus was transformed into a drop-in centre, while energy saving light bulbs were distributed to tenants, benefit payments were secured, and debts were cleared.
Energy champions were trained, including front-line workers, elders, and volunteers. Meanwhile, information resources were shared and translated into other languages. To prevent hypothermia, blankets, base layers, gloves, thermal socks, and scarfs were provided to people who needed them.
Nine community buildings were made warmer and cheaper to run, and thousands of home visits and Priority Services Register sign-ups were carried out.
Support becomes more vital
In the most recent rounds of the fund, the Covid-19 pandemic, energy price hikes, and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis made the support provided by these projects even more critical.
The impacts on individuals have been significant, including:
- Improved health.
- Reduced isolation.
- And a greater sense of empowerment in managing energy-related issues at home, which has helped them stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter.
These positive outcomes can lead to broader benefits, such as reduced NHS costs, fewer hospital readmissions, and stronger local communities.
It’s clear that the projects have made a real difference in the lives of those they’ve supported, especially in these challenging times.
As a result of this work:
- 65,683 people received basic advice and support around using energy at home, debt advice, benefits entitlement, and accessing grants and other support.
- 13,353 received in-depth advice, including 3,200 home visits.
- 3,723 frontline workers trained.
- 954 events took place supporting people in the community.
- £3,463,000 in financial benefits to customers were recorded, meaning that each £1 invested in the scheme by UKPN led to £3.60 in financial savings for customers.
- 4,879 customers were signed up to the Priority Services Register
- Energy efficiency improvements were made to nine community buildings.
A legacy of energy awareness and energy resilience
Through this project, the funded organisations successfully enhanced awareness about energy in their communities and among their staff and volunteers. The capacity building initiatives, which included training a significant number of front-line workers in energy advice, contributed to empowering communities with a better understanding of energy and home energy use.
Smaller organisations, which had limited involvement in energy previously, acquired new skills and knowledge on energy advice provision. This means they can now offer better support to their communities and potentially apply for other funding in the future.
The grants for community buildings resulted in physical energy efficiency improvements, leading to significant reductions in carbon emissions and energy bills, while also increasing the levels of comfort for building users. Community buildings can serve as warm hubs and centres for bringing people together, making their role increasingly important.
Devas Club and CREW Energy entered into a partnership to develop an energy efficiency project to improve the Club’s sustainability; reducing carbon emissions and energy bills. Power Partners funding made it possible to install a Building Management System (zoned heating), LED lighting throughout the building, and passive infrared sensors (PIR) in low use areas like toilets and changing rooms. This resulted in an annual saving of around £3,500 and cut their carbon consumption by more than 10 tonnes per year.
LED lighting throughout the youth centre not only saves running costs, helps us fulfil our target of reducing our emissions by 5% per year over the next three years. We can also control our heating more effectively and we look forward to making savings in winter.
UK Power Networks owns and maintains electricity infrastructure in the South East, East of England and London, distributing power to millions of homes and businesses.