Energy Hardship Fund FAQs

 FAQ's 

#What is Fuel Poverty? 

#Why we need to act 

#How will it work?

#Why should we support and contribute?

#How to donate 

What is Fuel Poverty? 

There are multiple definitions of fuel poverty, however they all represent the condition in which the cost of energy is an undue burden on households. 

“Fuel poverty is the condition by which a household is unable to afford to heat their home to an adequate temperature”,   End Fuel Poverty Coalition. 

 Why we need to act 

Fuel poverty is a major problem every year. For low-income households already balancing bills, the onset of colder weather and increased need for heating can lead to difficult choices, sacrifices and debt. Community Action on Fuel Poverty estimates that 4.5 million households are in fuel poverty across the UK. 

This year fuel poverty is set to be an even greater issue. Mounting fuel prices will hit low-income households the hardest. Indeed, recent estimates suggest an extra million households may fall into fuel poverty over the next year. 

Increased energy bills can push more households into debt, which not only is a financial burden, it also impacts health and wellbeing. The UK Social Value Bank puts a measure on this impact; being debt free equates to £1,592 per year, whilst relief from being heavily burdened with debt is valued at £10,836 per year. 

The inability to affordably heat a home also puts lives at risk. ONS statistics for just England and Wales put the excess deaths due to cold homes in the winter of 2019-2020 at 8,500. Long term, urgent action is needed to improve the energy efficiency of homes, but in the short term support with bills can be a lifeline during the colder months. 

Fuel poverty is also a product of the poverty premium, by which those on low incomes effectively pay a higher price for goods and services. Using a pre-payment meter is estimated to cost an extra £38 per year, and not being able to switch to the best fuel tariff comes to an extra £233. With rapid rises in energy costs, this premium will hit low-income households the hardest. 

As a sector we can make difference by supporting residents. Government statistics suggest that 15% of households in fuel poverty are social housing tenancies, therefore supporting social housing residents is an effective way of reaching those in need. Social housing organisations are already engaged in the lives of residents and communities, making it easier to identify and support those in fuel poverty. 

 How will it work? 

We are working with Charis, a grant management platform which can be used to distribute hardship vouchers to residents across the UK. Over the winter of 2020-21 HACT administered the distribution of over £1m of vouchers through the Charis platform to over 16,000 resident households across the UK. 

Funds raised over the coming months will be transferred to the Charis platform in December and January, which can then be accessed by social housing organisations on behalf of residents. 

UK based social housing organisations will be able to access vouchers on behalf of their residents via the Charis platform. Vouchers will both cover residents on prepayment meters and those who pay for energy in other ways including direct debit. 

Eligibility requirements will ensure that vouchers are prioritised for those in the most immediate need over the winter period. 

 Why should we contribute? 

Our sector has a common purpose, supporting social housing residents in their homes and communities. 

Some organisations already provide hardship grants to cover fuel costs every year. We want to help more residents access this support, by creating a larger UK wide fund. To do this, we are calling for both social housing providers, and friends of the sector to contribute to a shared pot. 

Together we can raise more money collectively, using a tried and tested delivery method to get energy support to those who need it. It’s a chance to make a clear, collective statement as a sector that fuel poverty is a problem that has to be addressed. 

 How to donate  

The fund is reliant on donations from social housing organisations, supply chain and procurement organisations, as well as charitable trusts and foundations. 

If you wish to donate please:

  • Email energy.hardship@hact.org.uk with your name, role, organisations details and pledge amount 
  • We will then reply to you directly, send you a donation pack and details of how to send funds 
  • If you wish to be added to our network to be able to distrubte funds please let us know 
 

The fund is reliant on donations from social housing organisations, supply chain and procurement organisations, as well as charitable trusts and foundations. 

If you wish to donate please:

  • Email energy.hardship@hact.org.uk with your name, role, organisations details and pledge amount 
  • We will then reply to you directly, send you a donation pack and details of how to send funds 
  • If you wish to be added to our network to be able to distribute funds please let us know 
Please use the above email if you have any further questions.