Publication - Minutes

Scottish Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum minutes: June 2019

Date of meeting: 13 Jun 2019

Minutes of the third meeting of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum in June 2019

Scottish Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum minutes: June 2019

1. Welcome (Chair)

a. Introductions and housekeeping – AL welcomed everyone to today’s meeting 

b. Apologies

  • Emma Grant-McColm - CAB
  • Lawrence Slade – Energy UK
  • George Dodds – NHS Health Scotland
  • Kathy Cameron – COSLA
  • Jim Eadie – Age Scotland
  • Alexander Anderson – Centrica
  • Ann McVie – Scotland’s Social Security Agency
  • Mike Campbell – Scottish Federation of Landlords
  • Ryan McFadden – OFGEM
  • Kendal Adams – Scottish Power Energy Networks
  • Barbara Whiting  - SGN
  • Brian Scott – The Poverty Truth Commission
  • Stephen Cunningham - SHEEN

c. Minutes of previous meeting, conflicts of interest and matters arising The Minute was agreed and AL noted that any conflicts of interest should be declared at the beginning of the meeting. None were noted on this occasion.

Following on from the Panel meeting in the morning, AL asked  how we look at progressing on recommendations from the task force and who would take up monitoring progress of those recommendations. AL confirmed that the Forum should still go ahead with this and will have a separate discussion with the Deputy Chair on how best to take this forward.

 

ACTION – AL and NK to discuss the monitoring role and feedback to the group

2. Health and fuel poverty

a. Presentation by CD – AL invited CD to deliver her presentation on exploring the links between energy efficiency improvements and health and wellbeing carried out in an Ayrshire and Arran pilot. CD spoke about the various area based schemes and the impacts on actual energy savings and costs and the benefits they had on health and wellbeing.  CD also spoke about the pilot scheme and the evaluations around HEEPS ABS, which are currently being analysed.

Following the presentation, the group took part in a brief Q&A session during which the following topics was discussed 

  • In relation to the presentation, there was discussion around engagement with HEEPS and if it was a condition to any grant being awarded with CD confirming that engagement was voluntary, with very little drop out.
  • The group also discussed the various types of properties that could be insulated and it was noted that where rough casting works had been carried out on previously tired looking properties that there was a general improvement across the board in the those areas with most people stating they were happy with the improvements, although it was acknowledged it could create an issue with “patchy” areas where some properties have not benefited from the works due to a mix of tenure.

 ACTION – KMcL to share the presentation slides with the group

 

b. Open discussion – AL invited everyone to look at the Monitoring Impact handout provided by George Dodds with a further open discussion session.

  • The group discussed the ‘Save The Children Study’ by Christine Ledell and the work being done to reduce asthma. The work being carried out at the Royal Swindon Hospital whereby patients with respiratory issues were identified by Energy Advisors who work to ensure they are going home to warm home on discharge was mentioned and SO’L offered to share a paper with the group on this.
  • The need to address the impact of delayed discharge and planned admissions to and from hospital was also discussed and engagement with key stakeholders and service users were identified as a key requirement in this area. The work done by HES/EST to try and identify different ways to achieve this was also discussed and the need to work with Integration Joint Boards to ensure that people working in the health and social care system were aware of the support available and that organisations, such as HES, have route in to vulnerable households.   
  • There was also some discussion around how best to identify and target support measures. SO’L added that a social indicator mapping exercise would show that targeted fuel poverty intervention involves overlaying data/information on various issues, such as age, illness, income and said that there are so many areas that could assist to focus help where it is needed, although it was noted that Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks don’t have access to health information for example, highlighting the need for joined up partnership thinking.

ACTION – SO’L to send the “Save The Children” paper to KMcL for distribution to the group

 

3. Fuel Poverty Strategy – the four drivers

a. interactive session – The members were invited to move to their assigned groups to take part in an interactive session to discuss each of the four drivers of fuel poverty. There were four groups who moved around the room to consider key questions around the four drivers of fuel poverty.

 

Table 1 – Inefficient use of fuel in homes

  1. How can Government support more efficient use of energy in the home?

Responses:

  • Scotland is already doing more than any other Country with the Panel and Partnership bringing key stakeholders together, which has resulted in higher levels of joined up thinking in Scotland.
  • Make sure energy advice is built in to every single programme, also that advice remains current and is on-going
  • In school education (there is no set curriculum so there is flexibility to do this). Specifically the use of incentives to encourage younger people to undertake apprenticeships in the energy sector was discussed as the current workforce either does not have the time or capacity to re-train their staff in modern methods of construction and energy efficiency installations. By training a new generation to specifically fill this skills gap could be beneficial.
  • Use social media to inform customers on energy efficiency measures and what options are available to them and include Home Energy Scotland, for example.
  • Provide free phone numbers to advice lines
  • Educate existing customers on the use of smart meters, including how to monitor their behaviours, and help with interpreting their energy use reports
  • Celebrity endorsements were suggested as a way to encourage customers to use energy efficiency measures with customers relating more to celebrities than leaflets, for example.
  • The use of face to face conversations with customers in their own homes and the door step tool was discussed as a way to address the barriers to energy efficiency use in homes where individuals may not otherwise engage with services.

 

2. Are there particular barriers to more efficient use of energy? 

Responses:

  • All four groups stated income and benefits (including sanctions) are a huge barrier.

Regulations (both in terms of complexity and onerous conditions on energy providers) were also discussed, with planning regulations (especially for listed buildings) being mentioned by more than one group

  • Landlords unwilling or unprepared to make energy efficiency changes to their properties, or if they do, they pass on the cost in rent increases to their tenants.
  • The application process to the various schemes can be complex and lengthy.
  • The costs associated with improving energy efficiency standards for homeowners who may not be able to afford the improvements required, which led to discussion around a lack of awareness of the energy efficiency schemes available and details on who can apply with leaflet drops (perhaps in the new baby boxes, for example) being suggested
  • There is a need to identify the right people and bringing them to the table (off-grid gas partners, passivhaus developers, community led energy schemes were all suggested).

3. If so, how can these be overcome?

Responses:

  • Better/more marketing of the SG Schemes
  • Local Authority marketing and promotion of various schemes available
  • Speak with more people (the door step tool was mentioned here again)
  • Better in house support and advice for customers from energy providers
  • Cheaper energy efficiency products, or free products (such as lightbulbs) for those in fuel poverty or at risk of entering fuel poverty
  • Encourage more joined up working between all stakeholders

 

Table 2 – Net Adjusted Household Incomes 

  1. What existing policies could support people moving out of fuel poverty through income maximisation?

Responses:

  • SG powers around new benefits and the new Social Security Charter which has income maximisation built in
  • Revisit Winter Fuel Payments – is the amount currently paid high enough?
  • Promotion of the new Scottish Social Security and getting information out there, for example the new Best Start Grant, which is better than the predecessor benefit. General promotion of the benefits available came up in all four groups with ensuring that families on low incomes are made fully aware of the benefits available to them
  • Remove stigmatisation for benefit claimants
  • Increase awareness for people around what help is available (leaflet drops and or media campaign) – including for families with children to help reduce/prevent child povert
  • Look at minimum wages and in-work fuel poverty. Can people in work afford to heat their homes?

 

  1. How can we ensure people receive all the benefits they are entitled to?

Responses:

  • Introduce a “one stop shop” claim for all benefits was mentioned by all four groups with a call for claimants only having to tell their story once and a full assessment for all benefits considered and clearly outline all benefits to make sure everyone knows what they are entitled to.
  • Remove the stigma around claiming benefits
  • A social security charter on benefits being a right (those devolved to Scotland, rather than universal credit).
  • Promote the use of the “nil income” forms available via LA’s and money matters offices
  • Offer everyone a financial health check
  • Advertising (GP surgeries, schools, hospitals, TV etc.)
  • Decrease the gap between loss of employment/bereavement/health issues and receiving of due benefits.
  • Energy provider referrals and working collaboratively with the providers, specifically targeting those who are identified as being fuel poor (which could also be done via the benefits system).
  • End zero hour working contracts and tackle in-work fuel poverty

 

  1. Who should we be working with?

Responses:

  • Local Authorities
  • DWP
  • Third sector organisations
  • Charities
  • Energy Providers
  • SG
  • UKG

 

Issues discussed included:

 

ACTION – AL and LF to discuss adding in-work fuel poverty to the next agenda for the meeting in December and inform the secretariat

 

Table 3 – High Household Fuel Prices 

  1. How do we tackle this given the levers largely sit with the UK Government?

Responses:

  • Educate people on the various tariffs (especially around standard variable tariffs)
  • Remember, those in fuel debt cannot switch providers!
  • Those in the PRS are more restricted on which energy provider to use
  • People on benefits may not have access to the internet and will be unable to use on-line services
  • Highlight the work of Citrus Energy/CAS/EST
  • Provide more details on the Scottish Government Power Company, and what its role will be?
  • Help with switching (incentives for switching?)
  • Develop and provide better information and advice for households on electric only homes, especially for those with restricted meters
  • More training for advisors (including the use of nil income forms)
  • Removal of higher tariffs
  • Innovate – small, local companies and alternative types of fuel
  • More calls for partnership thinking and collaboration (including other stakeholders, such as fire services, health and medical workers, energy suppliers, LA’s and Government).
  • Recognise at which point cost vs income can tip people into fuel poverty
  • Use of engagement methods (such as logo’s on energy bills highlighting sources of assistance for those struggling with their bills and/or inclusion of leaflets with bills).
  • Fuel type (gas, electric, off-grid etc.) and regulate costs for customers

 

  1. What is the role of energy companies and the regulator?

Responses:

  • Some Housing Authorities have been setting up their own energy producing initiatives and local community based co-op’s
  • Community heat solutions for the future
  • Social energy (battery/solar) and passing savings on to customers to reducing energy prices
  • Provide good advice to their customers – even if that advice is to move to a cheaper tariff and/or provider
  • Introduce more flexible payment arrangements
  • Reduce their energy prices in general (which are currently far too high)

 

  1. Could/should more be done?

Responses:

  • Energy prices should be more affordable for everyone so they can afford to heat their homes
  • Promote the use of (and diversify the type of) smart meter options
  • Better advice from the SG, energy providers and all other stakeholders
  • Regulation of oil, not just gas or electricity
  • Reduce the higher standing charges currently applied in the North
  • Pre-payment meters – remember some people like them and can work with them to save money via no estimated bills.

 

Table 4 – Homes Having Low Levels of Energy Efficiency 

  1. How do we best identify fuel poor households that have low levels of energy efficiency?

Responses:

  • We shouldn’t just comment on homes that have low energy efficiency standards
  • Extremely poor levels of energy efficiency need to be tackled first
  • People can slip in and out of fuel poverty depending on their circumstances, making it difficult to identify them (the use of zero hour contracts was mentioned here again with the need to fully scrap them).
  • EPC register will take time to gather all the information on all houses
  • Think by tenure – socially rented, PRS, homeowners and compare with house type and location
  • Combine energy standards in the home with income to establish if households can afford energy efficient measures
  • Use mapping – cross reference households with income and housing type/tenure
  • Use local knowledge, ask people
  • Create an EST energy performance certificate register
  • Look closely at areas already identified as being in multiple deprivation
  • Look at local weather conditions, is the weather combined with older properties impacting on energy efficiency?

 

  1. Can we improve our current schemes that improve energy efficiency?

Responses:

  • Make the process of applying for schemes easier (simplify the red tape and application)
  • Consistency/enforcement/delivery
  • Increase data sharing to help identify fuel poverty and then measure energy efficiency in the homes and identify what can be done to improve the standards.

b. feedback on the day’s events

AL thanked everyone for their input and the group agreed the table discussions were both informative and gave food for thought. AL thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.d

Attendees and apologies

Ann Loughrey (AL) – Chair

Norman Kerr (NK) – Deputy Chair

Jamie Stewart (JS) – CAS – Deputising for Emma Grant-McColm

Audrey Gallacher (AG) – Energy UK – Deputising for Lawrence Slade

Sarah Boyack (SB) – SFHA

Peter Kelly (PK) – The Poverty Alliance

Stewart Wilson (SW) – Tighean Innse Gall

Dr Cassandra Dove (CD) – Energy Agency

Dennis Berg – OFGEM

Donna Burnett – NHS Health Scotland

Judy Muir (JM) – British Gas – Deputising for Alexander Anderson

Jen Gracie (JG) – Child Poverty Action Group – Deputising for John Dickie

Liz Crowther (LC) – DWP

Laura McGadie (LMcG) – Energy Savings Trust – Deputising for Mike Thornton

Lori McElroy (LMcE) – Existing Home Alliance

Michael Tornow (MT) – NHS Health Scotland – Deputising for George Dodds

Chris Graham (CG) – Scotland’s Social Security Agency – Deputising for Ann McVie

Simon O’Loughlin (SO’L) – Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks

Linsey Restrick (LR) – Scottish & Southern Energy

Heather Watts (HW) – Scottish Power

Caroline Lawrie (CW) – SGN – Deputising for Barbara Whiting

Lisa Glass (LG) - Shelter

Lynn Forsyth (LF) – Scottish Government

Adam Krawczyk (AK) – Scottish Government

Esther Laird (EL) – Scottish Government

Lizann Leckie (LL) – Scottish Government

Karen McLaughlan (KMcL) – Scottish Governments

Contact

Karen.McLaughlan@gov.scot