Working together to tackle fuel poverty

As winter approaches, Home Group have launched a campaign calling on government and energy suppliers to help the housing sector tackle fuel poverty.

The campaign has a number of key asks centred around the need to simplify the support that’s already available and consider new measures to alleviate the pressure on households, including one-off fuel payments to vulnerable households, the removal of standing charges and greater access to Winter Fuel Payments.

It’s a campaign we’re proud to support, especially in light of the latest government figures which state that 2.4 million households in England are affected by fuel poverty. It’s an issue that can’t be resolved overnight, but by working together we hope to effect real change.

Meanwhile, with more than 350,000 people nationwide calling a Clarion property their home, we are uniquely placed to provide support to our residents on a wide range of issues. Through Clarion Futures, our charitable foundation, we offer guidance and support covering everything from money management to finding and retaining paid employment.

And as temperatures drop, we know that reducing energy bills and keeping warm becomes an increasingly important issue for our residents.

In 2019/20 we supported 2,628 residents with one-to-one money guidance and energy advice and have seen an increase in demand which means we expect to support many more this financial year.

Over the years, we’ve moved away from treating fuel poverty as a standalone issue, finding that a conversation about energy usage and bills can uncover other challenges a household may be experiencing.

Our dedicated team provides tailored support and advice, identifying ‘quick wins’ that the resident can make themselves, as well as supporting them through more challenging actions such as escalating bill issues with suppliers. Once we have engaged with a resident we can also assess their other needs and provide additional support, with the wider Clarion Futures offer covering digital inclusion, jobs and training, and community activities, all with the long-term goal of improving residents' lives.

Alongside this, we’ve introduced fuel vouchers to support those most in need, and are working with British Gas to make it easier for vulnerable residents to access support. We’re also committed to working with residents to help them find employment or training and make it easier for them to pay energy bills.

It’s not just about the support we can offer, however. We’re committed to improving the energy efficiency of our homes and becoming a leader in the sector on sustainability and are undertaking extensive work to deliver on this ambition.

In the last financial year alone we spent more than £10m on work to make our homes more energy efficient, helping our residents save more than an estimated £360,000 on their utility bills. In the short-term, we’re prioritising the upgrade of our highest risk properties, ensuring all properties reach a minimum band D standard by 2025.

By 2040 it is our ambition that Clarion will be the undisputed leading housing group for good quality, fit for purpose, well managed, sustainable and affordable homes.

Michelle Reynolds, Chief Operating Officer at Clarion Housing Group, said: “Helping our residents keep warm and save money on their utility bills is one of our priorities as winter approaches, and so we’re delighted to be supporting Home Group’s campaign. We hope that by working together, the sector will be able to effect real change and help tackle fuel poverty, bringing real benefits to our residents and complementing ongoing work to improve the energy efficiency of our homes.”