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Hopes for uptake in fuel poverty help scheme

 
Created on 13/04/2021 @ 07:29
Changes will be made to the eligibility criteria of a fuel poverty scheme in the hope that uptake improves.

Councillors at yesterday's Powys County Council's Economy, Residents, Communities and Governance scrutiny committee looked at a new “statement of intent” to improve the delivery of the ECO-3 ( LA Flex scheme in Powys.

Not for profit community interest company Warm Wales administers the scheme for the council.

They receive £60 of each payment of £150 made to PCC by Ofgem for an installation.

The changes have been suggested following a review which show that the scheme is performing badly in Powys.

Head of housing and community development, Nina Davies, said: “Since the scheme was adopted in September 2020 Warm Wales has processed 37 applications, but has only delivered two installation of energy efficiency measures.

“This is far below expectations.

“The idea is to embrace a wider client group and increase take up of the scheme.

“ECO3 in its current form is unattractive to households and non-viable for Warm Wales to deliver.”

Committee chairman Cllr Mathew Dorrance pointed out that the scheme was supposed to generate £340,000 for the council.

He believed that a revised figure for income generation should also have been put before the scrutiny committee.

Cllr Dorrance said: “If we are trying to build back better from the pandemic, protecting the income of the council is really important, and it’s been missed.

“Have you done any work on what the revised income to the council will be?”

Mrs Davies said that the suggested changes were to bring the scheme back “to what was anticipated” when it was set up.

Cllr Dorrance asked: “You are saying that at the end of 2022/23 this scheme will have generated £340,000 that was promised originally?”

Mrs Davies, replied that she could not “guarantee” that sum.

Cllr Dorrance said: “It’s disappointing from a scrutiny perspective that the service has not looked at this issue in the whole, and I would have expected a more complete picture to be reported today.”

Cllr Dorrance said that he expected the committee to be updated on the financial position in due course.

The main changes to the scheme are which will go to a cabinet meeting for a decision are:

A means tested income cap of £34,500 for vulnerable applicants.
Income thresholds for other adults will rise from £9,300 to £14,000.
ECO (Energy Company Obligation) is a UK government energy efficiency scheme administered by OFGEM and funded by energy companies, which is designed to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty throughout the UK.

ECO3 is the third version of the scheme and will run until March 31, 2022.

The fuel poverty scheme has been dogged by controversy in Powys.

Due to claims of fraud, the roll out of ECO3 has been delayed to allow an investigation to take place into its predecessor, ECO2.

Following a report by internal auditors SWAP, who cleared PCC of wrong doing, Warm Wales were brought in to administer the scheme.

Approximately 9,500 of the 59,600 households in Powys are in
fuel poverty, identified by Powys Council’s Well-being Assessment 2017.

 

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service