Thursday, November 23, 2006

Priority Group Aged 60+

Hi There

Hope youre well - isnt it going dark soon now ?! Happy Thanksgiving to all my US visitors.

I have heard news of a couple of items that I thought might interest you this week. Following on from the likely changes to EEC3 that were announced as part of the consultation by Defra and Ofgem in October 06, it would appear that the utilities are already planning ahead.

I understand that Scottish Power have already amended their schemes (including YES - Your Energy Services) to reflect a target of 80% Priority Group client claims (as opposed to a previous 50%).

That means that 80% of their EEC claims henceforth will need to come from clients who are in receipt of a specific welfare benefit/tax benefit.

I understand that from January 2007 British Gas will follow the same or similar guideline - but with 80% of their claims coming from the private sector and not social housing. This would reflect the proposed change to EEC3 in that its highly likely that Ofgem will stipulate that there will be little or no funding for priority group households in the public sector, as the assumption will be made that most social housing providers (having had over 6 years of EEC funding available to do so) will have installed all the measures necessary and so any that haven't taken full advantage pre April 2008 may well be left to their own devices in terms of funding any work that is still outstanding. This could have a major impact upon investment plans for those SHPs who dont plan to complete insulation works in particular before the end of EEC2! One should also note that the savings score attached to cavity wall insulation will be reduced by 30% (therefore less funding may be attributed to this measure) although it will still be regarded as the primary measure for EEC.

So all SHPs please be aware that this may also be taken on board by the other energy suppliers - with the likelihood that costs will rise due to raw material price increases, fuel costs and also the actual cost of finding the priority group measures in the private sector will escalate.

One possible advantage could be a really simple and effective solution.

With the NEA forecasting a grim statistic for this Winter, that the North West of England will become the highest region for excess Winter deaths from cold related illness and fuel poverty, we ought to focus more on the potential victims and how they could very easily be assisted and how we could literally help to save lives.

Much is made of people in receipt of welfare benefits who are assisted - and rightly so - and who may be considered vulnerable to the cold and at risk of fuel poverty. But what about the thousands of people who are aged 60 and over who arent on any benefits and therefore cannot qualify for 100% funded grants for insulation and/or heating?

Why cant the Government and Ofgem simply alter EEC to reflect that ANYONE who is aged 60+ can be eligible for free insulation and heating - and ALSO free loft clearance.

Every year thousands of loft insulation jobs have to be cancelled because older people cannot clear their lofts to enable the work to be completed - what a massive waste ! I would encourage contractors to establish loft clearance teams or sub contract this work to a reputable company who can work in tandem with the insulation contractor to ensure every job possible is fitted correctly.

Perhaps the NIA could back this call and promote such an idea with their members?

I would ask that anyone who has a part in the decision making process for setting up energy efficiency schemes - from individuals to organisations and Government departments - lobby the legislator (Ofgem) to insist that the 60+ population has the right to free insulation measures regardless of who they take their gas or electricity from?

I know some energy suppliers may have schemes in place to assist the over 60s if they buy their energy from them (eg Powergen, Scottish Power, British Gas etc) but usually its a discounted price forthe insulation and its not 100% free.

I know that many reputable installers try and assist people where possible and some local authority schemes (Burnley BC and Preston CC for example) offer grants up to a certain level for anyone living in their Borough who is aged 60+ but more funding could be contributed and also the utilities would find a more cost effective route to their targets if 60+ clients automatically qualified for free measures.

So please get lobbying Ofgem and your local MP today.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

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