Fuel Poverty

Cabinet Members have approved a Fuel Poverty Strategy (2019-2023) which provides a framework for the Council’s investment, actions and interventions to mitigate the risk of fuel poverty across the County Borough.

An Officer report to Cabinet on Thursday, October 17, asked Members to consider a draft Strategy covering 2019 to 2023, which will help residents who struggle to afford to heat up their home. It also directly complements the Council’s priority work to reduce carbon emissions, improve the energy efficiency of homes and promote behavioural change with residents.

In Wales, a household is defined as being in fuel poverty if occupants spend more than 10% of their income to heat their home to a satisfactory level. This definition does not consider those who ‘under-heat’ their homes in order to afford energy bills – which has further consequences of cold-related illnesses.

Over the last 10 years, the Council has delivered a range of interventions – including facilitating £26.4m of external investment to deliver energy efficiency schemes. The Council has also installed over 8,000 efficiency measures to 7,000 homes – for example, cavity wall and loft insulation, and new boilers.

In order to help residents reduce their energy bills, the Council also has a tariff-switch service called ‘RCT Switch’, while a full-time Housing Energy Officer provides help and assistance on utility bills and behavioural change – which has helped residents save a collective £500,000-a-year on energy bills.

On Thursday, Cabinet acknowledged the good progress made, and agreed the Fuel Poverty Strategy (2019-2023). It has three key objectives that will be covered by a series of projects and actions, briefly summarised below:

  • Providing advice and assistance to maximise household disposable income – expanding the energy advice service to a one-stop energy referral ‘hub’, along with increasing the marketing and promotion of behavioural change advice to County Borough residents.
  • Reducing energy bills – expanding the delivery of ‘RCT Switch’, providing advice and support for utility debts, identifying households that would benefit from digital inclusion projects, providing behavioural advice and promoting cheaper methods of bill payments.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of homes and decarbonisation – enabling the delivery of external capital grant schemes, developing energy projects that ‘bolt on’ to grant assistance from the Capital Housing Programme, investigating planning options to deliver energy schemes, and working with housing associations and private sector.

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “Fuel poverty is an issue which the Council is committed to tackling and, while we have a good track record in bringing forward measures to help households, the Fuel Poverty Strategy has been agreed by Cabinet as an even-more proactive approach.

“Three main factors are recognised as contributing to fuel poverty – household income, energy prices and the energy efficiency of homes. Latest Welsh Government figures issued in 2018 suggest 12% of homes in Wales are in fuel poverty, along with 20% of people living in properties built before 1919 – of which there are a significant number across Rhondda Cynon Taf.

“The Strategy agreed by Cabinet today provides a framework for all activity towards tackling fuel poverty over the next four years. It focuses on three strands – providing advice of energy usage, reducing energy bills and improving the energy efficiency of homes. Much of this collaborative approach to tackling the contributors of fuel poverty will be conducted alongside the Council’s wider drive to reduce our carbon footprint, as a priority issue.”

Posted on Thursday 17th October 2019

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