The paper you are presenting tonight seeks to help alleviate the effects of fuel poverty on some of the most vulnerable, at risk and lowest income households across our Borough. Please can you confirm how recipient households will be identified and what criteria will be used when deciding how to prioritise households?
As you mentioned, this scheme has been developed to help those in most need, and seeks to help alleviate fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency of households locally. Wokingham Council has 949 properties (HRA properties) in the E, F and G bands. These are the three least energy efficient bands. In addition, from the database we can identify those older private properties that could benefit from this scheme; together there is a combined figure of 1,809 properties. These homes form the target group, which we will review against the eligibility criteria for this scheme.
Our local knowledge and experience is essential in identifying those with the greatest need from across the Borough, and we will focus on these households first. These properties will receive a letter to invite those who meet the eligibility criteria to contact us. We will liaise with our housing departments to target those on benefits or council tax benefits who could also benefit from this. To be eligible, households must receive one or more of the benefits listed in the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation; also known as the "the Affordable Warmth Obligation".
The Council will use directly targeted letters to invite residents to respond and are currently using this system, which is tried and tested. Upon the response we will confirm eligibility criteria and arrange a visit and survey to establish costings and customers approval.
We want to achieve as widespread an uptake as possible to ensure that energy efficiency measures are installed in as many eligible households as possible. The Energy Company Obligations Grants are paid directly to the eco installers rather than the household or HRA company. This guarantees that residents will benefit from the efficiency upgrades without either themselves or the Council having to contribute financially. As a Council we have set aside £30,000 of pre-budgeted money to meet funding gaps should for any reason an identified household not be eligible for 100% grant of works.
Could you please confirm if this is the same or if it is a different scheme to the Government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme?
I am really pleased to say that this is actually very separate to the Government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme, although many of the same houses would be eligible for both. I actively advise any resident in the Borough who is a homeowner to check out the www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk website to see whether they would or would not would be eligible for a Green Homes grant, which is money paid by the Government in order to make environmental upgrades to your home. I have applied myself for grant money to put solar panels on the roof of my house, which will help fund my heating bill, and should help bring it down by about 25% hopefully. I actively encourage any householder across the Borough to apply for this, completely separate scheme.