Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Local Authorities’ Energy Partnership
The Local Authorities' Energy Partnership (LAEP) is a non-statutory partnership of all 20 councils across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire (established in 1996) and continues to provide an excellent model of how councils can work together for mutual benefit.
Partnership activities are delivered via a membership service and a communications service which are funded through separate subscriptions. Councils benefit from support, information and communication services and collaborate on carbon reduction, affordable warmth and sustainable energy projects, sharing expertise and best practice.
Each council is represented on the Officer Working Group (OWG) which runs the partnership and funds are held by Derbyshire County Council which is the LAEP Treasurer and Accountable Body.
Health and housing affordable warmth programmes
Since 2015, the LAEP and its member local authorities have made great strides in creating and establishing health and housing programmes in both counties which target comprehensive affordable warmth assistance at the most vulnerable residents. Households living in fuel poverty with long term health conditions made worse by the cold are identified and provided with home heating improvements, assistance to help lower their fuel costs and/or increase their incomes; enabling them to keep warm and well at home.
Over the last two years, over £500,000 of capital funding for domestic heating measures has been secured from external sources including National Grid, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (now BEIS) and National Energy Action (NEA) as well as from public sector budgets including Public Health and the Better Care Fund. This has enabled essential works to be paid for in homes where residents had no means to pay for heating repairs, heating replacements or insulation measures.
Many of these households would have been unable to access ECO funding because they required the replacement of back boilers, whole heating systems or off gas solutions, none of which provide sufficient ‘life time savings’ for the investment that utility companies would need to make. In the worst cases this means vulnerable residents with no means of paying for the works themselves being without any heating or hot water for an indefinite period. In other situations residents are unable to access ECO because they are not on qualifying benefits; this is often the case for those of working age.
Nottinghamshire Warm Homes on Prescription programme (ongoing from 2016)
The Nottinghamshire Warm Homes on Prescription project (led by Newark & Sherwood District Council which also hosts the Programme Manager) aims to help low income households with cold-sensitive long-term health conditions to achieve affordable warmth.
The project targets residents who satisfy the following criteria:
• Have long-term health conditions made worse by the cold
• Are in fuel poverty (defined as having a gross household income of no more than £16,010 per annum excl. PIP/DLA or <£800/month after mortgage/rent)
• Have savings of less than £16K
• Own their own home or privately rent their home
The project offers a bespoke service consisting of a home visit to primarily identify the need for a heating upgrade, an income maximisation assessment and/or support with energy tariff switching. In addition to these core elements, the project utilises existing local pathways to offer debt advice, temporary heating, home safety checks, falls advice, support with accessing Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG’s), Handy Person Adaptation Service and/or Housing Options advice.
The pilot year (2016-17) has delivered approximately 100 targeted interventions to 40 residents who are suffering with long term health conditions that are made worse by living in cold homes. (A third of these beneficiaries live within Newark & Sherwood, and virtually all of the 60 vulnerable residents referred to Newark & Sherwood District Council benefitted from one or more of the support services on offer.) The home visits have been undertaken ‘in house’ by local authority representatives and whilst it was recognised early on in the programme that this pilot delivery model was unsustainable to some authorities, the learning has proved invaluable and, as a result, all Nottinghamshire authorities are looking to incorporate the Warm Homes on Prescription project as a ‘business as usual’ activity through their future Better Care Funding (BCF) allocations for 2017-2019.
Utilising the capital funding available through the BCF has only proved viable due to Public Health providing revenue funding to support the Warm Homes on Prescription project for 2017-18. This funding will be used to cover the costs required to deliver home visits, as required, and the coordination and management of the project.
The project has been successful in creating new referral pathways with NHS frontline staff, Environmental Health Officers and local charities, however, engaging GP’s has proved to be challenging. As well as creating new pathways, the project has been successful in building on the existing services delivered by Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), the Nottingham Energy Partnership (NEP) and the AGE UK Connect Service.
The project is governed by a Project Board and, looking forward, has been included as a key work strand in the Nottinghamshire Sustainability Transformation Plan (STP), enabling expansion into Nottingham City and delivery of targets set out in the Housing Chapter of the Nottinghamshire JSNA.
Newark & District Council Case Study – Mrs B
Mrs B has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Atrial Fibrillation. As a result of her health conditions she spends a minimum of 15 hours per day on an oxygen machine which means she is virtually housebound.
Mrs B has very little in the way of savings. She receives the State Pension, a small private pension and is in receipt of Pension Credit. Living on a low income makes it impossible for Mrs B to adequately heat her home in cold weather but, as a result of her long-term health conditions, she feels the cold more than most.
At the time of the home visit Mrs B’s heating was not working which lead to the Home Energy Advisor making an immediate referral to the Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service (NFRS) to request that they deliver and set-up 2 oil-filled electric radiators as a temporary heating measure. Whilst NFRS were delivering the heaters they undertook a Home Safety Check which resulted in the installation of new smoke detectors.
Through the Nottinghamshire Warm Homes on Prescription project a full central heating system has been installed which consisted of a new ‘A’ rated combination boiler, new double panel high heat output radiators, a programmer, a room thermostat, thermostatic radiator valves (TRV’s), all connections and pipework. The team also arranged the 1st year annual service to give Mrs B piece of mind that she would have no unexpected maintenance bills during the 2 year warranty period. As Mrs B lives alone general advice was given regarding falls prevention and a Lifeline was installed, just in case she falls and needs assistance. A grab rail was also fitted outside the back door to enable her safer access to her garden.
Mrs B was also referred to DWP for a benefits check; they visited her at home and have significantly increased her income via the Assisted Living Allowance which has enabled carers to visit twice per week to help her to live more independently.
As a result of these Nottinghamshire Warm Homes on Prescription interventions, Mrs B says she is looking forward to being warmer and more comfortable in her home during the winter and is very grateful to the project for all the support she has received.