Actions to take


1. Review the recommended general actions


2. Explore sources of funding available to local authorities to tackle fuel poverty. Initiatives to tackle fuel poverty are likely to require specific funding, although the scale of this will depend on the type of initiative. For example, interest-free loans are available to councils through the DECC-administered Salix Energy Efficiency Lending Scheme. This can enable loan schemes such as that provided by The Stroud Target 2050 Loan scheme, which offers households the chance to borrow up to £10,000 to make energy-saving improvements to their homes, at interest rates that are significantly lower than commercial lenders. Local authorities should also take advantage of existing sources of help such as ECO.



3. Review and assess the energy efficiency standards of properties in your local area.  This can be accessed in bulk lots for a fee by contacting: See Government guidance on accessing the data. This will help inform decisions on what to do for different housing tenures.



4. Continue investment in social housing improvement works. This is essential to help reduce fuel poverty and poor health among at risk groups, as social housing tenants are likely to be on low incomes and vulnerable to fuel poverty.1



5. Provide funding for improvements in the private rented sector. Below are two case studies of local authorities that have done this2:

  • Teignbridge District Council's Landlord Energy Assistance scheme provides grants to private sector landlords for measures that would improve the energy efficiency of a property occupied by a vulnerable tenant, such as those in receipt of a means tested benefit, aged 70 years or over, or with a child aged under six.
  • The North Staffordshire Landlord Accreditation scheme is a partnership between Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Stafford Borough Council and the North Staffordshire Landlords Association and, amongst other benefits to landlords, provides a grant of up to £2,000 for energy efficiency improvements.


6. Consider leveraging contributions from developers to support action on fuel poverty, as illustrated in the case studies below:

  • Waveney District Council used a portion of its section 106 funding from developers to help bring empty properties in the area back into use and up to good, safe modern standards by removing hazards, including those that lead to cold homes. Funding was provided to the property owner in exchange for them agreeing to house council-nominated tenants from the housing waiting list.
  • Islington Council has created a carbon offset fund to pay for energy-saving work on social housing in the borough3. If developments are not carbon neutral they will have to offset the carbon dioxide emissions that will be caused by their project by paying into the carbon offset fund. There is flexibility to waive or reduce the charge for smaller projects or other schemes whose viability would be threatened by the charge. 



7. Enforce private rented sector standards. Local authorities already have a legal duty to take ‘appropriate action’ wherever a property is found to have a ‘Category 1 hazard’ (the most serious hazard, e.g. no fire alarm, inadequate heating) under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Increasing awareness of standards is only the first stage; local authorities must also enforce these standards. The usual course of action is generally to first work with landlords, to encourage them to install the necessary improvements, before resorting to formal action.  Local authorities can force uncooperative landlords to install adequate thermal insulation and a suitable and effective means of space heating so that the home can be economically maintained at reasonable temperatures.



8. Make greater use of selective licensing powers and introduce landlord accreditation schemes.  The introduction of a selective licensing scheme should only be considered as an integral part of a local authority’s overall housing strategy. Sufficient resources must be made available to support private landlords and tenants to comply with any obligations placed upon them as part of the scheme.  Shelter has produced a good practice guide for local authorities on selective licensing.



9. Use the private rented sector to tackle homelessness and improve housing standards at the same time. The Localism Act 2011 has increased the potential for local authorities to use the private rented sector to tackle homelessness as part of their obligations under the Homelessness Act 2002.  By paying to house homeless people in the private rented sector, local authorities have some leverage with landlords to encourage them to improve their properties. However, if homeless people are housed in substandard homes then they are likely to become fuel poor.



10. Ensure the energy efficiency of new build.  Many councils including Leicester City Council and Ipswich Borough Council are working with developers to ensure that new developments exceed the minimum standards of energy efficiency.4



11. Make use of new technological developments such as smart meters, and support their roll out and use in encouraging energy saving behaviours.  Innovative technology could prove useful in tacking fuel poverty, either through the information the meters provide or when a visit is made to the property to install a meter, which provides an opportunity to provide advice to the household or assess the energy efficiency of the property.



12. Apply area-based initiatives to tackle fuel poverty. Target home owners and renters alike, to bring tangible benefits in terms of tackling fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions. Examples of this include initiatives from the Nottingham Energy Partnership such as the Greater Nottingham Healthy Housing Service and an older project, Aspley Super Warm Zone which used CESP funding (this source of funding finished in December 2012).



13. Support income maximisation schemes to reduce fuel poverty. People often do not claim all of the benefits that they are entitled to, so benefits checks can increase people's incomes and thereby reduce the depth of fuel poverty. Islington's SHINE (Seasonal Health Intervention Network) initiative includes a referral system where one referral can lead to up to thirty potential interventions, including benefits checks and energy advice. The SHINE initiative also prioritises vulnerable occupants, including those found to be living with long-term health conditions. See the SHINE Case Study.


14. Organise help for vulnerable households during cold weather periods.

  • Work in partnership with public health and health providers to tackle cold homes. The Cold Weather Plan for England is a good practice guide produced by Public Health England, supported by the Local Government Association, which aims to inform relevant stakeholders of the complex factors that create cold homes and encourage appropriate action to address them.
  • Work with charities, non-governmental organisations and groups of volunteers to assist vulnerable individuals during cold periods. See the Snow Angels Case Study.


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