Cunninghame Housing Association has announced impressive fuel poverty performance figures for its three Lemon Aid fuel poverty teams during 2018 and 2019.
The teams secured more than £1.8 million in financial savings and debt reduction for clients across Dumfries & Galloway (£545,130), North Ayrshire (£648,168) and East Ayrshire (£635,643) over the period.
In addition, the following support was also delivered:
- Customers receiving Advocacy support or advice – 10465
- Customer referrals from Partner Agencies – 6885
- Very vulnerable or disabled clients assisted – 5636
- Customers referred to other agencies for further financial inclusion – 5356
- Customers assisted back on supply when self – disconnected from supply due to lack of funds – 1613
Lemon Aid Fuel Poverty Service
Lemon Aid aims to address fuel poverty experienced by the most vulnerable residents in North and East Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway. The teams work on a one-to-one basis directly with clients, often in their own homes, and deliver a holistic 360-degree service working with established partners in care, support, and financial inclusion and looking at all aspects relating to energy and fuel poverty.
The teams of advisors provide:
- Home visits to vulnerable residents experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty providing them with a full range of advice
- A hand holding fuel switching service to break through the fear of switching that many vulnerable and fuel poor tenants have and secures cheaper tariffs and genuine financial savings for fuel poor households
- Advocacy services including negotiating with energy suppliers and other agencies to write off debts and secure grants and other resources to maximise disposable income
The teams target fuel poor households in North and East Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway – with many also experiencing issues such as debt problems, poor mental or physical health, homelessness, chaotic lifestyles, addiction problems and tenancy sustainment issues.
The advisors provide a comprehensive service including:
- gathering information in relation to energy use and cost
- advocating on behalf of clients to obtain grants,
- securing debt write off,
- negotiating meter exchanges,
- resolving incorrect billing,
- obtaining refunds from suppliers, reconnecting those who have self-disconnected from supply due to inability to pay bills,
- securing Warm Homes Discounts and
- enabling switching to new suppliers to secure deals on tariffs
Based on the impact which the Lemon Aid service has been able to make on the lives of vulnerable people, CHA has recently been successful in securing additional funding from the Scottish Government’s Investing in Communities Fund to support the work of the service going forward:
- Dumfries and Galloway Lemon Aid project received £214692 to fund the Team until 31 March 2020
- North Ayrshire Lemon Aid project received £85442 to support the Team until 31 January 2021
- East Ayrshire Lemon Aid project received £75442 to support the Team until 31 January 2021, with an additional £10,000 secured from East Ayrshire Council.
Frank Sweeney, CEO of the Cunninghame Housing Association Group of Companies, welcomed the funding support provided by the Scottish Government and East Ayrshire Council: “We are absolutely delighted to secure the support of the Scottish Government and East Ayrshire Council. Funding such as this is absolutely crucial in enabling us to increase disposable income in fuel poor households and reduce the number of local residents cutting back on food, clothes and bill payments to pay for fuel.
“Our teams are often charged with re-connecting some of the most vulnerable residents in our communities who have self-disconnected from their power supply. No other initiative provides the comprehensive service that we do.”
Mr Sweeney went on to issue a challenge to those in Government charged with tackling fuel poverty issues.
He added: “Let’s be clear that fuel poverty is not just about increasing or retro-fitting specifications of existing/new housing. We must realise that people require advice and support to tackle fuel poverty.
“Look at what Cunninghame and its Lemon Aid service are achieving across our communities. Over the past five years, our teams have achieved financial savings and debt reduction of £5,396,087 for fuel poverty clients.
“Fuel poverty, financial poverty and child poverty are all interconnected. If we are able to continue to ‘Make a Difference’ the Scottish Government, as part of its 2040 Vision, must look at long-term and on-going funding for projects like Lemon Aid which are absolutely integral to efforts to alleviate and, hopefully, eradicate fuel poverty.”