Isle of Wight residents are facing unprecedented domestic energy bills. The latest estimates predict bills of around £4,650 pa from January 2023. Before the Covid pandemic fuel poverty levels were around 11% of households on the Island, they then rose to about 18%.
The Footprint Trust predicts that this will rise to around 30% of Isle of Wight households by the end of the 2023 winter. This means that some 21,000 homes will be affected, making difficult choices between heating and eating. The Footprint Trust helps around 2,000 fuel poor residents every year, through practical guidance and grants.
“Without specialist help and support many people will sit in the cold and not put heating on at all. Others will default on rent and mortgage payments or not pay their Council Tax. Some will cancel Direct Debits for fuel and finish up in Court and may ultimately be cut off…”
Said Ray Harrington-Vail of the charity.
The Footprint Trust is concerned that its staff will struggle to cope with the number of enquiries that they are anticipating. They estimate that enquiries will go up from around 2,000 pa to over 4000 in the next 12 months. The cost of training and recruiting more staff is beyond their resources.
They are to recruit volunteer ‘Energy Helpmates’ as this is an immediate and cheaper way of getting basic guidance and help to the fuel poor who, if necessary, can then be passed on to their specialist team for more tailored help.
Their proposal is to recruit volunteers with a level of expertise in energy and related matters. Such people may be retired electricians, plumbers, gas fitters, engineers, teachers, university lecturers. But anyone would be considered who has numeracy skills and a desire to help, subject to a DBS being carried out and receiving information from the Trust and approved national City & Guilds training. There will be an informal open evening on Tuesday 6th September at 5pm in Newport to find out more.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01983 822282.