Benefiting from Warmth
Advising, outreach and referral – a project to tackle fuel poverty in North East Somerset and Mendip
Project duration: March 2005 to February 2007
Benefiting from Warmth is an innovative advice, outreach and referral partnership project designed to increase clients’ disposable incomes by increasing take up of Pension Credit (and other related benefits) and simultaneously rendering them eligible for energy efficiency grants to make their homes warmer and cheaper to run. The project is specifically designed to target older people in rural communities.
The project aimed to:
- lift older people out of fuel poverty
- build a strong new partnership between two local advice providers: the Bristol & Somerset Energy Efficiency Advice Centre (EEAC) and North East Somerset Citizens Advice Bureau
- engage a broad range of secondary referral partners and other projects which offer a range of services to older people
- increase the range of services available to older people in rural areas of North East Somerset and Mendip
The EEAC and NESCAB delivered training to each other’s frontline advice staff on how to flag up potential clients who may be eligible for Pensions Credit (and other benefits) and those eligible for energy efficiency grants. This ‘trigger training’ was also available to other secondary referral agencies, increasing the potential for helping other clients.
The project delivered 50 outreach events in villages in rural wards of North East Somerset and Mendip with high levels of fuel poverty. These included advice surgeries, presentations to elderly groups and information stands at local events. Controlled and targeted direct mail activity was also undertaken to help identify potential clients. Clients were offered a benefits check and a home energy check to assess their eligibility for benefits and for energy efficiency grants.
The project started in March 2005 and was launched later in 2005 at an event for representatives from other agencies and groups working in the area.
It is hoped that the project had a ‘double whammy’ effect on fuel poverty among older people: the increase in income through a successful claim for Pension Credit will by itself reduce fuel poverty among the target group; in addition, Pension Credit is a ‘passport benefit’ for the Government’s Warm Front grant and other means-tested energy efficiency grants and the installation of energy efficiency measures will further reduce fuel poverty among the target group.