Members were addressed at the online meeting (November 17), of the Adults and Communities Scrutiny Committee by Belinda Child, Head of Housing, Prevention and Wellbeing, who said: “A fuel-poor household cannot afford to keep the home adequately warm at a reasonable cost.
“This is defined by the government using the low-income high cost (LIHC) indicator which means that a household is fuel poor if their fuel costs are above average to be able to heat their home to an adequate standard and if they were to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the poverty line.
“The Government is required by law to tackle fuel poverty by making the coldest, leakiest homes in England more energy efficient.
“The new legally binding target came into force in December 2014, requiring a minimum standard of energy efficiency (Band C), for as many fuel poor homes as reasonably practicable by 2030.
“The Affordable Warmth Strategy is being brought to Scrutiny alongside the Housing Renewals Policy which includes details of the type of assistance the Council may make available to help achieve the objectives of the Strategy and which complement externally funded projects and initiatives to tackle fuel poverty and poor housing condition.
“The draft Affordable Warmth Strategy provides a five-year framework over which we will aim to reduce fuel poverty and help residents of Peterborough to live in a warm, healthy and energy efficient home.
“The Strategy has three main objectives: Increasing Energy Efficiency – By providing schemes to increase the energy efficiency of domestic housing – By providing energy efficiency advice to residents across Peterborough;
“Reducing Fuel Poverty – By targeting fuel poor households with assistance – By maximising the income of households in fuel poverty – By reducing household fuel bills.
“Improving Health and Wellbeing through Increasing Affordable Warmth – By improving household heating without increasing carbon emissions where possible – Through crisis intervention for vulnerable people in cold homes, including heating installation and repairs – and, with help to prevent people falling into fuel poverty.”
Sharon Malia, Housing Programmes Manager, added: “It is anticipated that the adoption of the Affordable Warmth Strategy and the Housing Renewals Policy will impact on all age groups if they are on low incomes and live in poor housing conditions, but it will positively affect those who are 65 and older and those with young children (under 5), disproportionately as assistance is directly targeted at these vulnerable groups.
“Mandatory Disabled Facility Grants are funded through the named Disabled Facility Grant Allocation within the Better Care Fund. All other grant assistance is discretionary and provided through the Council’s capital programme and are subject to funding availability.
“The disability group will also be disproportionately positively affected as this group tend to have low, fixed incomes and therefore live in poor housing conditions and have limited ability to leave their homes due to deteriorating health and/or mobility and therefore spend longer periods of time within the poor home environment.”
Cllr Ikra Yasin, asked: “Your report says that the Disabled Facility Grants are subject to availability, can I ask, is there sufficient funding available and also the discretionary funding that will be granted, will that be allocated on a case-by-case basis?”
Ms Child replied: “There is a mandatory requirement on the council to provide those grants once need has been identified by an occupational therapist, so there is a nationally available sum of money to cover that funding.
“There are two types of discretionary grants that we will be giving: the first is a top-up to the mandatory grant which has a maximum of up £20,000; while the second is determined by the condition of the property in which the applicant is living, heating, lighting etc., we can provide deep-cleans if required, fall-prevention assessment, as well as hoarding-risk and falling objects assessments.”
Members noted the new strategies and that the Affordable Warmth Strategy and the Housing Renewals Policy will be uploaded onto the Consultation pages of the Council’s website for a period of 5 weeks.