Review of the market for CESP community partnerships

Supporting the development of the Community Energy Saving Programme

Project duration: November 2008 to March 2009

Update: July 2013
Click here to download a spreadsheet summary of a study into community partnerships working on energy, undertaken by CSE on behalf of EAGA.


In order to support the development of the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), a review of the market for CESP community partnerships in Great Britain was carried out. This report presents the findings.

The policy background for CESP shows that there are already several in place programmes and policies that are relevant to CESP and community energy schemes or community engagement in general. The next step was to identify sustainable energy schemes (designated as CPPs – Community Partnership Projects) from across Great Britain with community involvement.

The schemes were mapped against income deprivation maps in recognition of the fact that CESP schemes are to be set up in the most deprived areas. CPPs were then categorised according to the nature of suppliers' and communities' participation or leadership and for each main category 2-3 CPPs were examined in greater depth in order to identify lessons learnt so far.

Existing CPPs identified as part of this research fall into two broad categories – national schemes that are being implemented in several localities, and those that occur singularly in one locality. Almost half of the schemes were initiated and led by the voluntary sector and close to a quarter of the schemes are grassroots initiatives led by the community themselves.

The activity of community groups identified in this study has focused on those driven by the climate change agenda; this is only a very small part of the community sector as a whole.

As CESP will target fuel poor households there is also considerable potential to embed the programme within existing area based regeneration and neighbourhood renewal schemes that are driven by the needs of the most deprived communities. These schemes have already spent many years building up trusted relationships with the most vulnerable members of society.

The development of community relations and trust, both between partner organisations and between these and targeted households, takes time. Building successful referral networks also takes a considerable amount of time, expertise and effort. It would therefore be advisable to work with existing referral networks where possible.

If the CESP programme is to really engage the most vulnerable members of society it will be important to work through, and very closely with, these intermediary organisations and existing drivers of community and area-based activity on level terms. In framing the consultation for CESP, it is further recommended that the following considerations are taken into account:

  • A large amount of flexibility should be applied in considering what constitutes a valid and valuable CESP scheme
  • The parameters of this flexibility should nevertheless be clearly defined and communicated at the outset of the Programme
  • This flexibility should extend to ensuring individual households that may not generally be eligible for support, but are in need, can benefit
  • Inter-scheme competition could be a useful element in CESP's overall design. In order to retain this option, it is recommended that flexibility be reconciled with a Britain-wide recognisable identity for the Programme
  • A major focus for CESP should be on areas that already have strong referral networks and can identify a suitable community and area within which CESP can deliver and add genuine value to activities already taking place
  • A suitable proportion of CESP resources should focus on rural communities
  • It is crucial that each individual CESP scheme is designed and implemented with an 'exit strategy' to sustain momentum beyond the Programme's duration
For further information contact:

Ian Preston | 0117 934 1422

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