How fuel poverty has been mitigated in Mansfield
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As the country marked Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on 30 November, the Mayor highlighted a number of actions Mansfield District Council has taken to help those who are struggling with high energy bills during the cost of living crisis.
- Fuel vouchers distributed to 101 households in severe need, supporting 200 residents - 83 of them children - since February this year. Another 262 households were referred to the Household Support Fund between April and September. This government-funded scheme is delivered by Nottinghamshire County Council in partnership with district councils and has offered financial support for those on means-tested benefits or low incomes.
- Warm and healthy homes grants for home owners on low incomes with cold sensitive health issues to cover boiler repairs or replacement or fitting thermostatic controls to radiators.
- A programme to build new energy efficient council homes.
- The next financial year will also see a total capital investment of over £17m in council homes across the district with a further £17m the following year. This investment programme will include roofing, windows, doors, electrical upgrades, heating upgrades, fire safety improvements and decarbonisation measures – all of which will make a positive contribution to the energy efficiency of homes.
- Delivering four government-funded schemes to enable home-owners on low incomes to improve the energy efficiency of their homes through enhanced insulation. Since November 2020, over 200 households and 12 council flats in the district have had free loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and external wall insulation fitted.
- Signing up to support a government-backed scheme which means energy companies must provide energy saving measures to qualifying low income and vulnerable households in the Mansfield district. Residents can apply via energy providers on the Ofgem website (link opens in new window).
- A cost of living roadshow that toured the district to enable residents to find out what help was available if they were struggling.
- A dedicated Cost of Living section on the council’s website, detailing where people can find help.
The Mayor said: “I am really proud of the way the council has made looking after our vulnerable residents a priority and has been a leader in our mission to mitigate the effects of the cost of living crisis.
“We know that living in a cold home can have multiple detrimental effects. It can worsen serious health conditions including heart attacks, strokes, bronchitis, and asthma. Fuel poverty can significantly affect mental health, too, and is a known risk factor for suicide.
“Cold homes are also detrimental to the development of children who can fall behind at school if they don’t have somewhere warm to do their homework. Plus, if there is no hot water, they might avoid personal care and this can then lead to bullying and social isolation.
“While inflation is starting to fall, prices for energy remain high. This challenging financial situation for thousands of families in the district is not over yet and there is still a lot more to be done.
“The council will continue to offer targeted support for those most in need, and help local people more widely through our programme to build new council homes that are affordable and energy efficient, and improve the ones we have, and by delivering nationally-funded schemes to help low income home owners make their properties better insulated.”
In 2022, National Energy Action, an action group, which aims to end fuel poverty, suggested that in Mansfield, 14.5 per cent (7,099 households) live in fuel poverty, slightly higher than its East Midlands average of 14.2 per cent and above its national average of 13.14 per cent.
Government statistics estimate that 13.4 per cent of households (3.26 million) were in fuel poverty in England, with 13.9 per cent in the East Midlands. These figures were projected to increase to 14.4 per cent (3.53 million) in 2023.
The awareness day comes a week after energy watchdog Ofgem announced that the energy price cap will rise from £1,834 to £1,928 per year from 1 January 2024 for a typical household which uses gas and electricity and pays by Direct Debit.
It also comes a day before the council is due to accept £1m in government funding for further energy efficiency schemes for 54 low income households in the Mansfield district.
And it follows Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement last week in which he announced a 6.7% increase to working-age benefits such as means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit, and disability benefits and an 8.3% increase in state pensions. There was also an uplift on the Local Housing Allowance rate to cover the cost of higher rents in the private rental sector.
Advice on energy bills and the cost of living crisis is available on the council website .