Our next steps to fight fuel poverty

Residents throughout west central Scotland are set to benefit in the ongoing fight to eradicate fuel poverty after The Wise Group, one of Scotland’s biggest social enterprises, won two key contracts to deliver vital services in this area.

Already providing more than £2 million of programmes that have helped reduce fuel bills across the region, the Wise Group has now been appointed to deliver the Energy Activator programme in Inverclyde, in conjunction with three of the area’s main housing associations.

The two-year programme, funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund, will see the social enterprise deliver a full range of energy advice and resource efficiency programmes to residents of three housing associations – Cloch, Oaktree and Larkfield – to give people the skills and information that will allow them to keep on top of their energy costs.

And the Wise Group has also been chosen again as the Delivery Partner for Inverclyde Council to meet the targets set out by the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland (HEEPS); a significant project delivering upgrades to energy efficiency and regeneration to some of the region’s most deprived areas.

The Wise Group has been managing the programme on behalf of the council since 2013. Over the last five years they have made homes warmer for 1745 residents by installing a range of insulation measures, saving residents on average around £200 per year. The environmentally-friendly measures have also contributed to a saving of more than 50,000 tonnes of carbon, while also improving the appearance of local neighbourhoods.

Now Inverclyde residents will continue to benefit from a multi-million pound investment programme and an extensive support package designed to allow people to take full control of their energy costs, and stay warm and healthy in their homes.

Sean Duffy, Chief Executive of the Wise Group, welcomed the development. “For many people, the line between getting by and going under is terrifyingly fine,” he said. “And for many, it’s their heating bills that tip the balance towards going under.

“In Scotland, in 2018, living in a warm home that’s affordable to heat should be a basic human right, yet every day we talk to people forced to choose between eating and heating. Delivering these contracts will allow us to help more people who otherwise would be facing that impossible decision this coming winter.

“We welcome the additional investment from the Scottish Government to support the eradication of fuel poverty. There has been noticeable progress and investment over the past decade, but there’s a long way still to go before that dream is realised. Together with our partners – national, local and community-based, we’ll keep doing our bit to help achieve it and to support people across the country who need it most.”

Paul McVey, Director of Cloch Housing Association, said: “We are delighted to launch the Energy Activator Project for our customers in Inverclyde, along with our partners at Oaktree and Larkfield housing associations.

“This two-year project will help reduce the rate and risk of fuel poverty in our communities and improve awareness of energy use and energy efficiency measures across our Associations and our estates.

“It was important for us to engage with an experienced market leader in this field and, with the Wise Group now on board, and our three Energy Activators employed in Greenock, we are confident that we can look to reduce household energy usage and increase carbon literacy and climate change awareness.

“This will be done using a variety of innovative and exciting methods in the community, including resource packs, video blogs and DIY workshops, all focused on adopting positive behavioural changes relating to energy and resource use.”