The issue of fuel poverty in Portsmouth was highlighted at a council event held for stakeholders from across the city last month. The awareness event was held in conjunction with and funded by National Energy Action (NEA) as part of their 'Warm and Safe Homes' (WASH) campaign.
The 'End Fuel Poverty in Portsmouth' event was held on Thursday 30th January. Partnering organisations, council staff, councillors and charities attended to listen to a number of talks from front-line organisations and key stakeholders who are tackling fuel poverty in England whilst discussing new ways of working.
Around 12.1 per cent of Portsmouth households cannot afford to keep their homes adequately warm, compared with the national average rate of 10.9 per cent. Fuel poverty often leads to colder homes and can have an adverse effect on the physical and mental health of adults, young people and the elderly.
The council has previously outlined its commitment to tackling fuel poverty and ensuring residents can keep their homes warm at an affordable cost. Switched On Portsmouth, a new campaign launched last year by the council, signposts residents to a number of free initiatives and schemes that can help them keep their homes warm, whilst saving money and energy. Initiatives include free home visits, free gas central heating installation, emergency boiler replacement and expert advice and support.
£170,000 of Energy Redress funding has been awarded to the Council and partners The Environment Centre to extend the reach of support available to those most at risk of fuel poverty through deep dive support and emergency fuel top up vouchers.
On the event funding, Adam Scorer at National Energy Action said:
“It is a tragedy that so many people die or suffer the health impacts of living in a cold home when they are largely preventable. This is why NEA committed to provide funding to so many different organisations across the country."
"We anticipate that the funding will make it possible for Portsmouth City Council to provide much needed support for residents within the local area”.
Staff from local organisations, particularly those who deal with vulnerable people, were invited to the event. Serving as a platform to raise awareness of fuel poverty, the event also provided an opportunity to promote the help that is available to residents and how organisations can work together to help those at risk.
The event was opened by Councillor Darren Sanders, the Council's Cabinet Member for Housing. There were then talks held on the health impacts of living in a cold home, technical innovation projects carried out by Southampton University and discussion of the council's recent 'Energy and Water at Home' strategy.
Speaking about the event, Councillor Darren Sanders said:
"Raising awareness of the problem of fuel poverty in Portsmouth is vital. Many people may be in fuel poverty or know someone who is but may not be aware of what help is available."
"Whilst we are making huge efforts to help residents who can't afford to keep their homes warm, we need to make even more people aware of the issue across the city."
"I am keen to make sure the Council and other agencies in the city work together to enable all homes in the city to be as energy efficient as possible. The recent 'End Fuel Poverty in Portsmouth' event is a great example of this multi-agency working."
The council recently participated in NEA's 'Nation's Biggest Housewarming'; a nationwide fundraising effort to tackle fuel poverty. As well as raising money to tackle fuel poverty, the event also provided an opportunity to Signpost the support available to staff so they are fully equipped to provide support to residents within their roles.
In recent years the council has held over 100 engagement events in community centres, libraries and housing offices in order to raise awareness fuel poverty in the community.
If you or someone you know is struggling with energy bills or to keep their home warm, make sure to visit the Switched On Portsmouth website for expert advice and free energy saving initiatives and measures.