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Fuel-poverty scheme relaunched

Created on 21/05/2020 @ 11:54
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

A controversial scheme that could help one-in-six Powys householders that are said to be in fuel poverty has been relaunched.

Not for profit company, Warm Wales, will manage ECO3 on behalf of Powys County Council who paused the previous version due to allegations of fraudulent claims.

The company will assess applications made for a number of energy efficiency measures that are covered under the scheme, including: new central heating systems, heating upgrades, ground and air source heat pumps.

Portfolio holder for Economic Development, Housing and Regulatory Services, Cllr James Evans, said: “This report seeks approval to declare and publish a ‘Statement of Intent’ allowing fuel poor private sector household’s access to home energy efficiency improvements, delivered by energy providers and their agents.

“The report has been subject to scrutiny and very wide consultation.”

Cllr Evans added that Powys Plumbing Group (PPG), who had claimed that earlier versions of the scheme had been abused, were part of the discussions on ECO3.

He added: “Warm Wales will provide a fully managed scheme, fielding enquiries, assessing client eligibility and work directly with energy providers and agents obligated to deliver measures under the scheme.”

He told his fellow cabinet members that Warm Wales would encourage the agents to work with local companies and that “meet the buyer” events would be organised.

“The service will be delivered at zero net cost to the council, funded via referral fees from energy providers,” added Cllr Evans.

The decision to approve the scheme was unanimous at Tuesday’s cabinet e-meeting.

ECO (Energy Company Obligation) is a UK government energy efficiency scheme administered by OFGEM and funded by energy companies, which is designed to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty throughout the UK.

Approximately 9,500 of the 59,600 households in Powys are in fuel poverty, identified by Powys Council’s well-being Assessment 2017.

The roll out of ECO3 has been delayed by several months in Powys to allow an investigation to take place into its predecessor, ECO2, when PPG claimed that people earning more than £21,000 a year, the threshold to qualify, were receiving free boilers.

Warm Wales have been brought in to administer the scheme, following recommendations by SWAP, the council’s internal auditor who investigated the fraud claims and cleared PCC of wrongdoing last year.

ECO3 will run until March 31, 2022.

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