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WM Greener Together Forum Fuel Poverty - 21 November 2022

Published 06 December 2022
Updated 25 January 2023


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This note outlines discussions had at the third West Midlands Greener Together Forum on the 21st November 2022, where the topic discussed focused on addressing fuel poverty.

The Forum bought together speakers from Local Authorities involved in tackling fuel poverty.

Matthew Eccles, Affordable Warmth Delivery Manager, West Midlands Combined Authority – leads on the Sustainable Warmth Competition and Warm Homes Saves Lives programme.

Helen Langley, Senior Agency Support & Development Officer, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council manages retrofit programmes within Dudley and creates materials for the Dudley Energy Advice Line (DEAL).

Bret Willers, Head of Climate Change and Sustainability, Coventry City Council – leads the climate change programme of work at Coventry City Council which includes the adoption of retrofit and energy efficient zero carbon technologies for homes and businesses.

2.0  Forum Logistics

2.1  Creating an Advisory Board for the Forum
We have held three sessions in 2022 for the Forum, covering tree planting, retrofit and fuel poverty. To ensure that the Forum is diverse, and action focused, we are inviting representatives from the business, faith, youth, and climate activist communities to shape future Forum meetings. The Board meetings will be transparent and fed back in Forum meetings. We envision the board shall convene at the end of January 2023 and meet for 1- 2 hours, online, every other month. The Combined Authority are contacting relevant organisations and groups to invite a representative to join the Board.

2.5 Receive the monthly West Midlands Combined Authority Energy and Environment newsletter by registering via this link.

3.0  Tackling Fuel Poverty

3.1  Important to share what is happening locally but the WMCA do not have enough funding to fulfil plans. The WMCA needs to lead a campaign to demand funds from government to meet retrofit plans.

The WMCA are currently negotiating a Trailblazer Devolution deal with government, which will redefine the powers of the WMCA across the region. Net Zero is a key part of the ask, and funding for retrofit work will be part of the devolution deal to fund whole neighbourhood projects rather than through single measures. There are also asks to work towards creating an organisation that can support end-to-end customer journey support through retrofitting.

3.2  Concerns on current retrofit schemes not being successful and fuel poverty advice only being shared online which means those digitally excluded are not accessing the information.

Each Local Authority will have their own advice services to support people with fuel poverty advice. Dudley Council have their Dudley Energy Advice Line for people to call and Warmer Homes West Midlands, delivered by Act on Energy, have phone services, and visit people in their homes

SHAP shared this video on the success of the Warmer Homes West Midlands scheme, and have recently received an additional £1 million in funding by the Energy Savings Trust through Ofgem’s Energy Redress Scheme to continue to support people in the region.

Groundworks Green Doctors programme, see’s energy efficiency experts visit people in their homes and has

referral from front line services

3.3  If warm spaces are successful could there be something similar for working? A free coworking space for those working from home.

This would be something each Local Authority, who are managing the warm home centres, would need to decide.

3.4  Can the WMCA have a policy for all new builds to be energy efficient?

The WMCA do have a Zero Carbon Homes Charter which is aimed at developers, housebuilders and other stakeholders involved in delivering housing within the region. The Routemap is an action plan setting out how we will achieve the principles set within the Charter. However more work is needed to create a mandate.

3.5  Is there a way of identifying who is most at risk of fuel poverty and is there a map showing areas people are suffering to target support?

Friends of the Earth have mapped areas across the UK where people are in fuel poverty ( and Matthew Eccles in his presentation shared that the WMCA area scores the worst for fuel poverty amongst all counties with 20.1% in fuel poverty compared to the English average of 13.2%. Coupled with the second highest percentage of properties in the lower EPC bands (Energy Performance Certificates) tells us why people in the region are struggling.

There is also a strong correlation between the funding available for home retrofit schemes and the uptake. A question was asked on if there is anything to show the uptake of retrofit schemes since 2012, and this graph shows the decline in insulation since the funding cuts.

3.6  Difficult to access current funding and schemes

Current schemes are oversubscribed, and services are seeing people who wouldn’t usually access their services requiring help. Dudley Energy Advice Line has seen a 20% increase in people accessing their advice line, with 3,000 people supported in 2021/22.

Groundworks Green Doctors programme, see’s energy efficiency experts visit people in their homes and has

referral from front line services. They have seen a huge increase in people wanting to access the service. 3.7 Needs to have easy access to good information on retrofit and energy efficiency

Dudley Council do have advice clinics to support people throughout the year, as well as 40 warm home hubs. However, it was mentioned that theses spaces need to be where the community go rather than expecting people to visit new places.

Energy champions programme at Dudley Council is a 2-hour course – challenge that this is not enough time to truly train people to be knowledgeable on energy efficiency.

The WMCA through the Warm Home Saves Lives programme, will share good practice across the region on community lead schemes that are supporting people in fuel poverty. The WMCA have begun a film series where we are following homeowners who are in the process of, or have already completed, retrofitting their homes. These videos are shared to support people in seeing the true impact of retrofitting your homes. The first video of Harriet and Chris Martins home can be viewed here.

4.0  Community Updates

4.1  Footsteps Tread Lightly Conference is being held on Sunday 27th November at the Al Hijrah Masjid in Small Heath. The conference theme is ‘Energy price crisis how affects faith communities and action being taken’. The event is free, please register to help plan for numbers: tickets-458320778787

Footsteps have also launched an Energy Champion programme which is a faith community response to the energy crisis by helping people to reduce energy use, pay fuel bills and keep warm and healthy. Find out more on the programme;

This briefing note will be shared with the WMCA’s Energy and Environment board who are convening on the 7th December 2022.