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Localise West Midlands given £24k funding boost

AN INNOVATIVE West Midlands project aiming to combat fuel poverty using renewables and energy efficiency schemes has been given a £24,000 boost from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust.

Localise West Midlands will use funding to undertake a research study entitled “Using a Green New Deal Approach to Tacking Fuel Poverty” which will find out how fuel poor individuals can benefit from pay-as-you-save and feed-in energy tariff schemes.

Feed-in tariffs are payments to ordinary energy users for the renewable electricity they generate and pay-as-you save schemes are government finance initiatives that provide a loan so that households can install renewable energy technology with no upfront cost and immediately reduce their energy bills.

Objectives of the study are to examine what barriers exist to the fuel poor benefiting from these initiatives and what action needs to be taken to address this. 

The project will make recommendations to all those with an interest in tackling fuel poverty on how these schemes can be made to work for the fuel poor.

Ann Loughrey, ScottishPower’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and The ScottishPower Energy People Trust’s Company Secretary, said: “This is a superb research project which may generate results that are also relevant to the wider UK.

“Fuel poverty affects millions of homes across the country and any research which benefits fuel poor people can only be a good thing.  I’m certain the findings will help in tackling this by discovering ways in which renewable energy will help to benefit those in need and enable access for less well off people.”

Phil Beardmore, Director at Localise West Midlands, said: “We’re very pleased the ScottishPower Energy People Trust has agreed to fund our research project and hope we will be able to help people in the West Midlands and further afield climb out of fuel poverty.

“Many people fear that feed in tariffs and pay-as-you-save schemes will mainly benefit the fuel rich, and will open up a new fuel poverty gap, with the poorest people being left behind by this low carbon revolution.  We are therefore undertaking this research project to examine what barriers exist to the fuel poor benefitting from these schemes, and what action needs to be taken to address the barriers. 

“The intended outcome of the research is that those managing current and future schemes will be able to design them better to benefit the fuel poor.  The research will also be of interest to many practitioners and decision makers in local government, energy and social policy.” 

Research staff from Localise West Midlands will be consulting and interviewing a wide variety of stakeholders.  The study will focus on various themes including debt and poverty, metering, bill payment, financial literacy, corporate social responsibility, social policy, hard-to-treat homes issues, regulatory issues. 

The ScottishPower Energy People Trust was established in November 2005 to fund not-for-profit organisations that help vulnerable people including families, young people, the disabled and the elderly who need to spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills.

To date, The ScottishPower Energy People Trust has awarded £8,202,215 to community projects working to reduce fuel poverty.  This funding is helping 1,490,571 people in 1,251,939 households across Britain.

For further information on Localise West Midlands please contact: Phil Beardmore, LWM director, 07791839025, philbeardmore@virginmedia.com

Friday, December 17, 2010