Changes to fuel poverty scheme criteria agreed by cabinet

Changes to the eligibility criteria of a fuel poverty scheme in the hope that uptake improves “make sense.”

At their cabinet meeting on Tuesday, May 4, Powys County Council (PCC) members approved a new revised “statement of intent” to improve the delivery of the ECO-3 ( LA Flex) scheme in Powys.

Not-for-profit community interest company Warm Wales administers the scheme for the council.

They receive £60 of each payment of £150 made to PCC by Ofgem for an installation.

The changes have been suggested following a review which show that the scheme is performing badly in Powys.

Head of housing and community development, Nina Davies, explained that the UK Government had made changes to the scheme which loosen the criteria.

Mrs Davies said: “In its current form it is unattractive to households and non-viable for Warm Wales to deliver.”

“A review by Warm Wales indicates that the low take up of the scheme is the result of the restrictive eligibility criteria, the low income threshold is considered too low.”

Mrs Davies told cabinet that other Welsh councils used “more generous” eligibility criteria which means that they receive more interest in the scheme

“Powys households may be losing out on really important investment,” said Mrs Davies.

Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris said: “This makes sense to me, we all think this is a good thing.”

Portfolio holder for young people and culture Cllr Rachel Powell wanted assurances that “all the data” on enquires would be noted.

Cllr Powell said: “It would be interesting to see who’s enquiring and who are the ones who maybe aren’t eligible.

“There are people out there who would really benefit from this scheme and it’s important that we get it right.”

Mrs Davies, said that this would be part of the review.

Changes to the scheme are a means tested income cap of £34,500 for vulnerable applicants which includes children and income thresholds for other adults will rise from £9,300 to £14,000

A three month review of how the scheme is performing will also take place.

Since the scheme was adopted in September 2020 Warm Wales has only delivered two installations of energy efficiency measures.

It had been predicted that without the changes to the scheme they would install less than 20 a year.

ECO (Energy Company Obligation) is a UK government energy efficiency scheme administered by OFGEM and funded by energy companies, which is designed to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty throughout the UK.

ECO3 is the third version of the scheme and will run until March 31, 2022.

The fuel poverty scheme has been dogged by controversy in Powys.

Due to claims of fraud, the roll out of ECO3 has been delayed to allow an investigation to take place into it’s predecessor, ECO2.

Following a report by internal auditors SWAP, who cleared PCC of wrong doing, Warm Wales were brought in to administer the scheme.

Approximately 9,500 of the 59,600 households in Powys are in

fuel poverty, identified by Powys Council’s Well-being Assessment 2017.

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