Fuel poverty blitz is hailed a success

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A two-year community project helping Wiganers tackle fuel poverty has been hailed as a success.

The Community Action Partnership (CAP) has been working with residents and organisations across the borough since it was launched in 2014.

The key to its success is responding to the needs of individual communities; we know a one-size-fits-all approach does not work

Maria Wardrobe

Greater Manchester was one of eight national areas chosen to roll out the scheme and a new report is suggesting the partnership has helped those struggling to heat their homes.

British Gas and the charity National Energy Action (NEA), which led the project, say the CAP has provided specialist training to front-line workers so they can help Wiganers keep their homes warm and save energy.

More than 250 people, including Wigan Council staff and employees for NHS trusts and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service learned how to identify people with difficulties heating their homes and then provide practical advice and support.

The report says almost everyone who received the training is now better able to incorporate preventing fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency in their work.

In addition, more than 80 per cent of those helped used the information to keep warm and reduce bills and 75 per cent of respondents said they are now better able to control their gas and electricity use.

NEA director of external affairs Maria Wardrobe said: “When we embarked on this programme with British Gas I don’t think we envisaged the immense impact it would have.

“The key to its success is responding to the needs of individual communities; we know a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. I hope other areas across the country find the resources we have developed helpful in replicating the success we have had to date.

“We look forward to continuing to work with British Gas to build on the legacy of the partnership.”

As well as awareness session for Wigan public sector workers the CAP ran City and Guild accredited training courses helping residents sort out fuel debt issues and improve their knowledge of energy use.

The report suggests the CAP will reach around a million people this year and three times that by 2020.

British Gas and NEA have now launched a new online research hub offering advice and starter kits helping other groups in Wigan plan, develop and run community schemes to combat fuel poverty.