Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turning The Tide

Hello There

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has recently published a report on the results of work carried out to housing estates over the past 20 or so years and the effects on the communities and the social well being of the residents.

Its interesting to note that the Government has committed to end child poverty by 2020 and with regards to fuel poverty, the first target being to reach those most vulnerable to cold-related ill health by 2010. Many campaigners are concerned that both these targets may not be achieved on time.

There are many positives in the JRF report but there is still a great deal of work to be done to erradicate issues surrounding poverty, debt and health.

The NEA have issued reports about the links between fuel poverty and mental health and it is disturbing that in 2006 we still have to raise this issue. Whilst the Government is likely to allow carry over on energy saving targets by the utilities into EEC3 from the current phase, if that is the case then why does our industry still suffer such huge peaks and troughs? Its extremely difficult for anyone to plan sustainable programmes with the funding issues that arise. More so in the private sector, where chopping and changing funding for measures can give cause for cynicism and lower take up rates.

The NEA suggest that we need one single "administrator" for all the EEC schemes to streamline the process and reduce confusion in the private sector so that customers have one point of contact. That sounds suspiciously like a bid to me !! I like their Warm Zones model but ask anyone who has worked in one (apart from the NEA) and they will tell you how difficult and costly it is to generate measures and that the actual conversion rates are no higher than anyone else's scheme model. However as the NEA operates as a charity I guess one could counter by saying that if its operated on a not for profit basis then that is a very healthy foundation and therefore they do deserve all the support - they do offer a good service and command great respect within the industry for all the lobbying of Goverment to change or present bills or new ideas for inclusion in Government funded schemes.

Rather unlike another "main contractor" who administers and installs on a Government funded scheme and who I understand charges a fee of £50 per property from the installer out of the £300 heating rebate as an administration fee. Not a bad little earner as the total funding pot can cover up to 5000 homes ! Thats £250,000 just for administration - enough funding to help a further 800+ homes. And you just know that the installer is very likely to pass this cost on to the customer in their quote somewhere - what a shining example of profiteering from the pre baby boomer generation and people who have paid into the system all their working lives. I understand that you need to cover costs for admin and overheads but is it really necessary to charge that much out of tax payers funds please?

I guess the old North West saying "You dont get owt for nowt" could apply there - and the problem is that incidents like this can unfortunately tarnish other schemes and people start to think that the truly free 100% funded schemes are a "con". As I have commented before, it is so hard to give away free money in this country. I visited my GP this week and to my amazement he has never even heard of the Warm Front grant - he knows about it now !!

I know a lot of people in the North West who have worked very hard to improve their stock and the domino effect on their residents and communities is fantastic. I would like to congratulate them all on a good job and wish them all the very best in their future plans.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

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