Document

Home Energy Conservation Act Report

Last updated: July 2019

The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA) requires all 326 local authorities (LAs) in England to submit reports to the Secretary of State demonstrating what energy conservation measures they have adopted to improve the energy efficiency of residential accommodation within that LA’s area. This covers measures to improve properties in the owner-occupier, private rented sector, and social rented sector. BEIS uses data submitted through LAs HECA returns to inform policy thinking on energy efficiency, and to build an ongoing picture of local and national energy efficiency policy delivery.

The team working on policy areas covered by this reporting tool is Environmental Health.

Headline and Overview Questions

1. Does your Local Authority have a current strategy on carbon reduction and/or energy efficiency for domestic or non-domestic properties?

Yes

2. If yes, please provide a link to your current strategy.

The Council's current corporate plan includes priorities around the Environment

Our current Planning Framework includes policies on Climate Change (Policy 35) and Appropriate Energy Use (Policy 36). Further details may be found here.

The Council's climate change strategy, whilst due for review, holds useful background material and can be accessed below.

Read the Council's Climate Change Strategy (2009)

2. If no, are you planning to develop one?

The HECA report process provides an opportunity to record previous activities and plan activities for the next two years and this has served a dual function in previous years. The new reporting format does not afford the same opportunities.

4. a) What scheme(s) has your local authority implemented in support of energy saving/carbon reduction in residential accommodation (such as owner-occupied, privately rented and social housing) or non-domestic properties since 2017?

The Warmer Homes Project ran during 2017/18. This projects partner was Groundwork South and provided energy saving community events and home visits to low income households at risk of fuel poverty. This project concluded in March 2018 (after 5 years).

In November 2018 we joined with West Sussex authorities to partner with AgilityEco’s LEAP scheme (Local Energy Advice Partnership) providing home visits to low income households.

The Council’s Safer Warm Homes grant, administered by the Environmental Health Department supports resident on low income and vulnerable (including health conditions) make energy saving improvements.

We supported the West Sussex County Council’s Your Energy Sussex project which included an affordable warmth project. Working with an ECO partner Yorkshire Energy Solutions it offered funding for improved heating systems for low income households.

We supported Sustainable Business Partnership Community Interest Company (SBP CIC) which works across the County in Partnership with all the District and Borough Councils to deliver a wide range of sustainability support for small and medium sized enterprises(SME’s). The Utilise Plus programme offers: grant funding for energy efficiency projects, events, energy saving workshops and energy audits to SMES.

4. b) What scheme(s) is your local authority planning to implement in support of energy saving/carbon reduction in residential accommodation (such as owner-occupied, privately rented and social housing) or non-domestic properties in the next two years?

We will continue to work with LEAP offering home energy visits to low income households(all tenures) at risk of fuel poverty. The Safer Warmer Homes discretionary grant fund will continue to be available for eligible households during 2019/20. Warmer Sussex, led by RetrofitWorks in partnership with local Councils is a BEIS grant funded pilot project ‘to support the coordination of the supply chain for retrofitting energy efficiency measures at a local level’. The aim of the project is to develop and test different approaches to increase rates of energy efficiency improvements in non-fuel poor homes, particularly alongside renovation work, by providing support for local supply chain integration and project coordination. RetrofitWorks leads a consortium of local organisation including local Citizens Advice, local authorities and community energy organisations across West Sussex, East Sussex and Brighton and Hove local authority areas.

The Sustainable Business Partnership CIC Utilise Plus Programme started in January 2017 and is due to run up to September 2019.

5. What has been, or will be, the cost(s) of running and administering the scheme(s), including the value of grants and other support, plus any other costs incurred? Please provide figures and a brief narrative account if desired.

The budget for the Warmer Homes Project (2017-18) was £5,000.

The budget for the Safer Warmer Homes grant in 2017/18 and is sourced from the Better Care Fund at West Sussex County Council, the value of the grant is available on request.

LEAP is funded by the industry initiatives Warm Home Discount Fund, and runs at no cost to the Council.

Warmer Sussex: Project has been funded by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial strategy.

Collectively West Sussex districts and borough councils work with the Fuel Poverty Coordinator. This role is funded from a West Sussex Public Health contribution in 2014.

The Sustainable Business Partnership CIC Utilise Programme has secured European funding and is for the Coast to Capital LEP including West Sussex.

6. What businesses, charities, third sector organisations or other stakeholders do you work with to deliver the scheme(s)?

Horsham District Council has worked with a number of local charitable organisations, key partners have been Age UK Horsham District and Horsham Matters. We have secured strong relationships with the West Sussex Health and Well Being Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups.

We will continue to work with AgiltyEco, and develop our partnership with RetrofitWorks.

We have good working relations with National Energy Awareness (NEA).

We support the SBP CIC and regularly partnered with them for events and are members of their steering group.

A range of installers are used to undertake the improvement works within the homes of our residents.

7. What has been the outcome of the scheme(s) (e.g. energy savings, carbon savings, economic impacts such as job creation and/or increased business competitiveness, societal impacts such as alleviation of fuel poverty and/or improved health outcomes etc.)? This does not have to be measured against national data or benchmarks, but rather focuses on the local authority’s own monitoring and evaluation.

The Warmer Homes project offered home visits and community events, and saved in the region of 6000kg of carbon emissions. The safer warmer homes grant has provided energy saving improvements and the Leap project offered energy advice through home visits.

Fuel poverty levels according to national statistics are remaining fairly constant with the latest figures (2016) indicating 7.6% of households at risk of fuel poverty (2015 levels indicate 7.7% and 2014 was 7.6).

Excess Winter Deaths continue to fluctuate and the Health Profiles for the district continue to highlight the levels are above average. The latest figures (2016/17) show that 100 excess deaths were recorded, against 80 death during the previous year. There are a number of causes of excess winter deaths, living in cold homes is just one indicator. Levels are influenced also by the severity of influenza epidemics and take up and success of ‘flu vaccines.

Gas consumption figures indicate an increase in usage from 642GWh in 2016 to 660GWh in 2017, this is likely to reflect increase in housing numbers within the district combined with a cold and prolonged winter temperatures. The number of gas meters has increased from 47,000 to 48,000. The number of houses not connected to gas network remains static at 12,000 households. Electricity consumption has marginally increased from 277GWh in 2016 to 278GWh in 2017.

8. What lessons have you learned from delivering this scheme(s)?

ECO is unable to cover the full cost of energy efficiency improvements. Where alternative funding cannot be found, work cannot commence which is frustrating for customers and providers.

Clear, well planned processes are essential in ensuring project success. The procedure for the Safe and Warm Home grants has been built upon years of experience of delivering grant schemes, where clear specifications, quality contractors and regular communications are crucial.

Local Communications Strategy

9. Does your local authority provide any advisory service to consumers (and businesses) on how to save energy?

Yes

10. If yes, please briefly outline how this is undertaken.

We issue regular news on a variety of media platforms to maximise resident awareness, e.g. news releases, website, social media accounts.

We also issue the ‘Winter Wellness’ e-newsletter direct to frontline workers. We share news with community groups such as the Horsham Repair Café. Energy saving advice is a significant part of the LEAP home visiting service. We also share news through our digital screens within the Council reception areas.

The SBP CIC offers advice through, website, telephone line, e-newsletters, events and audits.

11. How do you communicate or encourage energy saving amongst domestic consumers and/or local businesses?

In addition to q.10 we have a council magazine that is distributed free to every household. Across the County we jointly produce “stay well this winter” booklets. 10,000 are distributed across the County and through our wellbeing team 1,000 have been placed in Doctors Surgeries, pharmacies, community buildings and village stores.

The SBP CIC also share case studies of success stories through the 'Sustainable Business Network' and the monthly Network Update (sent to 1,400+ organisations). By holding various events where good practice is overtly celebrated, and by attending third-party networking events to new SME’s are engaged.

Local Green Supply Chains

12. Does your Local Authority promote the use of energy efficient products amongst consumers (and businesses)?

Yes

13. If yes, please briefly detail how this work is undertaken.

During 2017 /18 we worked with Energywise South to encouraged home owners/ private tenants to install insulation subsidised by the Energy Company Obligation scheme. The scheme was promoted through our website, the winter wellness newsletter and letter drops to homes.

We have made funding for external wall insulation available to qualifying park home owners.

Due to the independent nature of local government it is not appropriate for us to recommend individual products.

SBP CIC recommend improvements though audit reports, at events, and supported with grant funding. They can link SME’s with suppliers among the Sustainable Business Network if appropriate.

14. What engagement (formal or informal) does your local authority have with local businesses/supply chains involved in promoting energy efficiency products or carbon reduction?

The Warmer Sussex project being developed with RetrofitWorks will involve the development of local supply chain along with a transparent cost model. As a precursor to launching a scheme, engagement with suppliers is underway with a number of events held to initiate supplier /contractor support and engagement. A Memorandum of Understanding with Retrofitworks is being developed.

The SBP CIC is the main conduit for environmental support for businesses.

Domestic Private Rented Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Regulations (the Regulations) apply to all privately rented properties in England and Wales. As of April 2018, all such properties are legally required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least an E before they can be let on a new tenancy. This requirement will then extend to all such properties by 1 April 2020, even if there has been no change in tenant or tenancy (please see BEIS’s published guidance documents for the full details on the standard).

The PRS Regulations give enforcement powers to local authorities, and authorities are responsible for ensuring landlord compliance within their area.

15. Is your authority aware of the PRS Minimum Efficiency Standards which came into force in April 2018?

Yes

16. Which team within your authority is responsible for, or will be responsible for, leading on enforcement of the PRS minimum standard?

The Environmental Health Department will be responsible for the enforcement. Encouragement to improve properties is considered an import first step for all domestic dwellings.

18. What method or methods does your authority use to communicate with landlords and tenants about the standards and other related issues?

Horsham District Council regularly checks the Exemption Register and contacts landlords where required. Warmer Sussex project will be key in engaging with landlords to encourage appropriate and cost effective improvements to properties. Landlords are contacted directly upon receipt of complaints from tenants. We engage and educate landlords before pursuing enforcement action, under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

19. Do you directly target landlords of EPC F and G rated properties? If yes, how?

We periodically review the PRS exemptions register. We have contacted individual landlords with F and G rated properties which could have benefited from the subsidised insulation scheme. We are glad to see the introduction of the cost cap, and feel the Warmer Sussex project could support landlords. Where tenants of properties contact the Council with complaints, we actively engage with landlords, serve Improvement Notices where appropriate. The HHSRS offers opportunities to engage with landlords. This has proved to be an effective mechanism for improvements.

Financial Support for Energy Efficiency

20. What financial programmes, if any, do you have to promote domestic and nondomestic energy efficiency or energy saving? If applicable, please outline the sums, where such funding is sourced, and where it is targeted.

The Safer Warmer Homes is the primary sources of funding. It is a discretionary grant, and has been available since 2017. The intention of the grant is to assist disabled and vulnerable people to make changes which support them to live in their own home with reduced risk for longer. It is available to qualifying low income home owners. The fund has a finite budget and is not actively promoted.

Disabled Facility Grant can fund some improvements for qualifying residents. Energy efficient version of improvements (such as boilers) are installed as standard where required. Minor Repairs Assistance grants are also available to qualifying residents.

Through Your Energy Sussex project 19 homes across the county were supported with improvements to heating and insulation, with 4 being within the district. The low number indicate the difficulties we have experienced accessing ECO funding through third party providers.

Fuel Poverty

21. Does your local authority have a fuel poverty strategy? If yes, please describe the scope of the strategy, and the support that is available for low income and vulnerable households to help tackle fuel poverty in your local area. Please also provide a link to your strategy if published.

Fuel Poverty is a complex public health issue, to effectively tackle fuel poverty it is important to have a multi-agency approach. The West Sussex local authorities have come together under the direction of the Fuel Poverty Coordinator and adopted a Framework for Action which draws together current interventions, governance structures and identifies influences and provides and overview of fuel poverty across the county. Horsham District Councils strategy is reflected in the content of this and previous HECA Progress reports.

Read the Framework for Action

22. What steps have you taken to identify residents/properties in fuel poverty?

Since the introduction of HECA, Horsham District Council has spent considerable time analysing data to determine where the highest levels of fuel poverty are. This includes reviewing data on: Population age, rurality, incidents of benefit claimants, property size, mains gas connections and indices of multiple deprivation. Countywide an online mapping tool has been developed using EPC and Mosaic data to help households at risk. Please note this is currently under review.

View the online mapping tool

By combining this type of local data along with Government statistical releases and local knowledge we have been able to identify the parishes where incidents of fuel poverty is likely to be highest. Generally this in our rural, off gas areas and where there are the highest concentrations of older residents.

Against this backdrop of information we have target community events increase awareness of energy saving advice and across the County training has been provided to frontline teams to be able to identify fuel poverty and refer households for supports e.g. Social workers and Prevention Assessment Teams.

24. a) What measures or initiatives have you taken to promote fuel cost reduction for those in fuel poverty?

Stay Well this Winter booklet – promotes energy efficiency and switching, with advice and signposting for help & support.  The West Sussex Energy website supplements the booklet with further online resources and advice on reducing energy costs and switching.

During the Warmer Homes project (2017/18) tariff advice was offered to households at Carbon Cafes, and also at 25 home visits; as a result an estimated bill savings were £1,437.30.

Horsham District has joined Your Energy Sussex, a local not for profit energy supplier (see 24 b for details). Your Energy Sussex currently have 3,815 customers, with 249 (7%) within the Horsham District (February 2019). Customer numbers are continuing to grow. Within its first year of operation, Your Energy Sussex acquired a large enough customer base to cover its set up costs. In year two, will begin to generate a Fuel Poverty Fund which will be used to support projects targeted at residents who are struggling to pay their bills.

YES has a pre-payment meter (PPM) tariff and encourages PPM customers to move to credit meters where appropriate.

LEAP visits review energy use and undertakes price comparisons with clients.

24. b) If you have taken measures or initiatives to promote fuel cost reduction for those in fuel poverty, what partnership with business or energy providers have you undertaken?

Your Energy Sussex is a local, not-for-profit energy supplier offering competitively-priced gas and 100% renewable electricity to residents in West and East Sussex and Brighton and Hove. The service is supplied under a ‘white label’ agreement between West Sussex County Council and Robin Hood Energy, the licensed energy company owned by Nottingham City Council. Local tariffs were launched in February 2018 to encourage residents to compare their energy costs, switch and save money.

Across West Sussex the LEAP programme has identified tariff savings of £6,500 from 220 households

The Energy Company Obligation

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is an obligation on energy suppliers aimed at helping households cut their energy bills and reduce carbon emissions by installing energy saving measures. Following the Spring 2018 consultation, the Government set out in its response that ECO3 will fully focus on Affordable Warmth – low income, vulnerable and fuel poor households.

The recently introduced ECO “flexible eligibility” (ECO Flex) programme allows LAs to make declarations determining that certain households in fuel poverty or with occupants on low incomes and vulnerable to the effects of cold homes, are referred to ECO obligated suppliers for support under the Affordable Warmth element of ECO. LAs involved are required to issue a Statement of Intent that they are going to identify households as eligible, and the criteria they are going to use; and a declaration that the LA has been consulted on the installation of measures in a home.

25. Has your local authority published a Statement of Intent (SoI) for ECO flexibility eligibility? If yes, please include a link to your SoI below.

Yes. View the Statement of Intent on the Arun District Council website.

26. Please use the following space to provide any further information you feel might be of benefit to BEIS, in helping us to understand ECO Flex delivery in more detail. For example, the number of declarations signed versus the number of households helped.

The West Sussex District and Borough have produced a joint Statement of Intent (SoI). Arun District Council are the leading partner and host the SoI on their website. The SoI targets category of ‘Low income and Vulnerable to Cold’.

The SoI is currently under review to include (subject to approval) additional category of ‘Fuel Poor’ so that further eligible households can be helped.

Approach to LA Flex is reactive – i.e. LAs respond to ECO installers who have identified a household not eligible under ‘Help to Heat’ who might be eligible under LA Flex. Number of households that could be helped was very low until income thresholds were adjusted above the BEIS recommended levels, and more in line with higher living costs in the area.

Across the County 22 households (4 of which were from Horsham) have benefitted from a declaration being issued, with a mix of heating and insulation measures being funded. As a result of improvement average saving were £1864/per annum. The majority of applicants had a health condition and another vulnerability.

Smart Metering

27. Please provide a brief statement outlining your current or planned approach to: Engage and support your residents (including those in vulnerable circumstances or with pre-payment metering) to promote take up of smart meters and achieve associated benefits (e.g. ability to control energy use, identify best value tariffs)? Please detail any work undertaken or planned with local/community groups, housing associations, micro businesses, Smart Energy GB under their Partnership Programme and energy suppliers.

Horsham District Council is able to provide advice and information to residents about Smart Meters. Resource limitations means that we are not adding additional resources at this time.

Through our work with LEAP advice on smart meters to residents is provided as part of the home visit consultation.

We do not hold our own housing stock, smart meters are being specified and installed in new residential developments. We are planning to retrofit all other meters over the next 5 years

Your Energy Sussex encourages customers with an electricity account to sign up for a Smart meter as part of the government roll-out. Customers are encouraged to complete an online request form and will be contacted with an installation date when installers are planning to be in their area.

28. Please provide a brief statement outlining your current or planned approach to: Integrate your approaches to delivering energy efficiency improvements in residential accommodation with the opportunities presented by the installation of smart meters, drawing upon materials from the Smart Meter Energy Efficiency Materials Project or other sources of independent information.

We do not have resources to provide further support installation of Smart Meters at this time

29. Please detail any: Resources/ support (e.g. services, funding) available to residents who have had an appliance(s) condemned for safety reasons and cannot afford to replace it (e.g. during visual safety checks conducted during their smart meter installation or otherwise).

We can use the Safer Warmer Homes grant for qualifying households. No requests have been received to date.

30. Please detail any: Existing relationships with energy suppliers to help ensure that the opportunities presented by vacant properties under your control are effectively utilised (i.e. gaining access to install a smart meter).

We do not have significant housing stock at this time.

Future Schemes or Wider Initiatives

31. Please outline any future schemes or wider initiatives not covered above that your local authority has carried out or is planning to undertake to improve the energy efficiency of residential accommodation or businesses in your area, for example, within your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Energy Strategy.

West Sussex Fuel Poverty Coordinator (FPC): We will continue to work with and support the Fuel Poverty Coordinator for West Sussex. The role of the coordinator is to identify and support the implementation new initiatives that will help reduce fuel poverty across West Sussex. The FPC administer an emergency heater scheme which provide an oil filled heater to vulnerable people with no working heating system. The applicant is further supported to ensure they receive appropriate financial support to make repairs or replace their no working heating system.

We will continue to work collaboratively with the West Sussex Authorities to develop initiatives for the benefit of our residents. We will continue to develop our Statement of Intent to ensure as many people as possible receive support within the parameters of the Energy Company Obligation.

We will continue to consider and implement appropriate schemes as new opportunities arise for the benefits of our residents.

Community Groups:

Within the Horsham District we have a number of proactive community groups. The Kinder Living group organises a kinder living show annually offering a wide range of sustainable living solutions. It is developing its own resource pages on its website. Further information about the group can be found here.

The Horsham Repair Café offers a wide range of information and advice for the community. It also offers Energy Advice including switching advice specialising in renewable energy suppliers. The Café is open once a month and more details are available on its website.

There are a number of other community groups operating across the district and we are glad to have their support in improving energy efficiency and reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions.