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News6 March 2023

Clarion Housing Group launches new energy equality campaign to support low income households

Clarion Housing Group has launched a campaign calling on energy suppliers to work with social landlords to improve government energy support voucher redemption rates as the deadline approaches.

As part of the launch of the ‘Energy Equality Matters’ campaign, Clarion has written an open letter to Secretary of State for Energy, Grant Shapps, and leading energy suppliers setting out its vision for more affordable energy and improved access to support for those who need it. This includes working with energy companies to ensure social housing residents, particularly those on prepayment meters, are aware of the support available and understand how to access it.

The government energy support vouchers scheme, also known as the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS), has been designed to help the most vulnerable households with their gas and electricity bills, but take-up remains low. Recent government figures have shown that up to 24% of people haven’t redeemed their vouchers, and uncovered huge variations in take-up among customers of different energy suppliers.

Clarion is calling on energy companies and the Secretary of State to work together to improve EBSS voucher redemption rates as part of its ‘Energy Equality Matters’ campaign which has three pillars:

  1. Support: ensuring equal access to financial support;
  2. Choice: ensuring people can choose the payment method that’s right for them;
  3. Fairness: ending the poverty premium with the introduction of a new social tariff.

Clarion’s call to energy suppliers today is focussed on the first pillar of the campaign – ‘Support’ – which seeks to ensure social housing residents and others can access the support to which they are entitled.

The second pillar – ‘Choice’ – reflects the fact that people need to be able to choose how they pay for their energy, with some people finding prepayment meters helpful in terms of managing limited budgets.

The final pillar – ‘Fairness’ – is calling on the Secretary of State and Ofgem to ensure that everyone, no matter how they pay for their energy, has access to the same tariffs and discounts and introduce a social tariff for the lowest income households who are struggling to afford their basic energy needs.

Clare Miller, Chief Executive of Clarion Housing Group, said:

“Redemption rates for vouchers issued through the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme are disappointingly low, which sadly means that support isn’t always reaching those who need it most. What’s needed is a collaborative approach, making sure that people know what help is available to them and how they can access it, and we’re committed to playing our part. We just need energy companies to get round the table with us.

“We should all have equal access to the best value tariffs and discounts but those on prepayment meters are often left out in the cold. Introducing a social tariff and ensuring energy equality would help provide some breathing space for those hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.”

National Housing Federation Chief Executive, Kate Henderson, said:

“While housing associations already play an important role in helping people to access support to alleviate financial hardship, including supporting people to get into work where possible, it’s vital that social housing residents have access to any further support they’re eligible for. This is why we’ve been working with the government to ensure that all housing association residents are able to access energy bill support, regardless of whether they are on a prepayment meter, a heat network, use alternative fuels or if they have a direct relationship with the energy supplier.

“Energy companies working with social landlords to make sure those in need are able to access the support that’s available is a no-brainer, so we’re very pleased to support this campaign.”