Gwynedd County Council
Looking to alleviate relatively high levels of fuel poverty, Gwynedd Council entered into an agreement with British Gas in 2004 to run a private sector 'Here to Help' Scheme.
The Council's 2003 Stock Condition Survey estimated that 38.6 per cent of households were likely to suffer from fuel poverty (compared to the Welsh average of 31 per cent of households).
'Here to Help' initially focused on private households in the designated area of Dyffryn Nantlle. As such, it was the first scheme in the UK to target private households at risk of fuel poverty. The scheme provided householders with free energy efficiency measures and benefits health checks. Assessors made contact with 63 per cent of households within the designated area, 450 energy saving measures were installed in 347 properties, and over half of those agreeing to a Benefits Health Check were eligible for additional benefits (the average across this group was £21.04 per week).
In light of these successes the Council decided to extend the scheme to the whole private housing sector. Financial constraints meant that the Council could not implement the scheme across the whole of Gwynedd at the same time. To achieve the greatest impact on fuel poverty, the scheme initially covered those three wards identified as suffering from the highest levels of deprivation. This was done through a piece of commissioned research which included data from the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation and other local sources.
By the end of January 2007:
A local partnership has also been developed with the Pension Service and the Citizen's Advice Bureau to simplify the Benefit Health Check Process. More recently the Council has taken further advantage of funds available under the EEC to develop a Here to Help Scheme operating within the public sector.