In May last year, we reported that CHA had been awarded £170 of heating vouchers for each of its 742 tenants. This was funded through the Social Housing Fuel Support Fund, created last year by the Scottish Government for housing associations to distribute vouchers to tenants.
The fund recognised the additional burden the pandemic was having on many households.
So far, 619 of CHA’s tenants have taken up the £170-worth of energy vouchers. They have also received additional help totalling a value of over £237,000.
With the heating vouchers and this additional help combined, an average of £552 has been allocated to each tenant.
Joe Gorman, CHA’s chief executive, said: “Attracting this additional help for tenants would not have been possible without the partnership CHA formed with the Home Energy Advice Team (HEAT Team) which is part of the Wise Group.
“As well as energy advocacy support, the HEAT Team provided additional support to help reduce tenants’ energy costs, improve their energy efficiency and provide hints and tips on how best to use their home energy.
“The team also looked into additional funding and discounts available, such as the Warm Home Discount and offered expert support to tenants facing repayment of outstanding energy debt.”
HEAT Team staff managed to access funding that helped to reduce tenants’ energy debt – in some cases, by as much as £1100. Some 549 tenants managed to access an additional £140 through the Warm Home Discount and 262 tenants received £49 through the MEGA Fund Voucher Scheme.
Maggie Botham, CHA’s chairwoman, said: “The Association has received excellent feedback from tenants on the help and support our staff and the HEAT Team have been able to provide so far.
“We have managed to secure a second phase of funding which means we can repeat this project in 2022. If you are one of the 123 tenants who did not participate in this project last year, we strongly encourage you to take part this year. Staff will get in contact with you over the coming months to make sure you receive the £170 energy voucher you are entitled to.”
Despite all the challenges presented by the Covid pandemic, CHA has also made good progress in improving the energy efficiency of tenants’ homes. More than £1 million has been invested in 2021/2022 in replacing ageing heating systems with more energy efficient systems and upgrading insulation standards.
Although energy prices are expected to increase again in October, these measures should provide some protection to tenants.
CHA also completed an investment contract in March 2022 that ensured that all of its properties complied with the new Scottish fire safety standards.
With the lifting of pandemic restrictions, CHA has been able to re-open its Community Hub, which provides high quality meeting facilities for local community groups and free high-speed Wi-fi.
Maggie added: “We’re now looking forward to increasing community activities in the CHA Community Hub.”