Tackling Fuel Poverty Together

Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice 1066

Empowering vulnerable Sussex households to maintain a safe and warm home

Our project at a glance

  • Strategic priority area: Targeting geographic communities most at risk of fuel poverty
  • Support target: 4,354 households over 33 months
  • Duration: December 2021 to August 2024
  • Investment: £266,000 over 33 months
  • Forecast SROI: £2.42

I just wanted to say how grateful I am. I couldn't have done it without Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice, especially as I have been recovering from cancer treatment, my energy just hasn't been there. The adviser has been very kind, very calm, and brilliant.

Citizens Advice client

Why we’re working together

More and more households now rely on financial hardship schemes to make ends meet. Without this essential help, families would be pushed into fuel poverty.

When a household is living in fuel poverty, their risk of carbon monoxide harm increases. Low-income households are less likely to own a CO alarm or have their gas appliances regularly serviced. 

Between December 2020 and April 2021, Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice distributed £300,000 worth of fuel vouchers, boiler repairs, emergency heaters, blankets and other products and services to keep vulnerable people in West Sussex warm during the winter. This reflected the severe need within these deprived areas, which we expected to worsen over the following months. 

In response to the increasing need, we co-designed a collaborative initiative with Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice 1066, plus other regional utility companies SSEN, Southern Water and UK Power Networks. Together, we provided energy safeguarding and financial wellbeing support to the most vulnerable households across Arun, Chichester, Hastings and Rother. 

Having successfully improved the health, wellbeing and financial outcomes for more than 825 Sussex households during the first two years of our partnership, we’ve now extended our programme through to August 2024. Our expanded programme will see us support a further 600 households through the Citizens Advice energy advice team, as well as providing enhanced winter support at warm hubs and delivering fuel poverty training to frontline healthcare workers.

Project objectives

  • Supporting 600 vulnerable households across East and West Sussex who are experiencing fuel poverty and financial hardship through the energy advice team
  • Encouraging eligible households to sign up for the Priority Services Register
  • Raising awareness of carbon monoxide safety and offering free CO alarms to households most at risk of CO harm
  • Providing 3,754 vulnerable households with energy and financial advice at winter warm hubs across East and West Sussex
  • Training at least 175 frontline workers on how to identify and support households in fuel poverty

How we’re working together

One-to-one energy advice

A dedicated team of Citizens Advice utility advisers provide tailored support around energy usage, fuel debt, benefit checks and income maximisation. The team is trained in motivational interviewing techniques and supports residents who fall into the NICE vulnerable group within Arun, Chichester, Hasting and Rother to change behaviours so they’re better able to keep safe and warm at home. 

Where the household is eligible for the Priority Services Register, advisers encourage the client to sign up and help them to do so if needed. Advisers also share information on carbon monoxide safety and provide free CO alarms for households most at risk of CO.

Bespoke energy crisis support

Our partnership fostered a joined-up service between health and social teams and Citizens Advice to support households in crisis access personalised help to ensure access to essential services, such as energy, water, housing and food. 

Winter warm hubs

The success of our Tackling Fuel Poverty Together project led to us funding an additional project for winter 2022/23, Welcoming Warm Spaces Sussex. For winter 2023/24, our support for the warm hubs is being delivered as part of our wider Tackling Fuel Poverty Together programme. The warm hubs provide a safe and warm space for residents to meet up and engage with others in a warm and inviting space, where help and advice is tailored to their individual need.

Frontline worker training

Through the programme, we’re providing free training to frontline healthcare professionals and care organisations to help identify vulnerable households at risk of living in fuel poverty. The training equips frontline healthcare workers with the knowledge and resources to refer households in need to our project for support. 

How to get involved

Accessing the Tackling Fuel Poverty Together Service

If you support a resident in Arun, Chichester, Hastings or Rother who is living in fuel poverty and within the NICE vulnerable group, you can refer the household to Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice or Citizens Advice 1066 for support. 

Residents living in West Sussex can contact Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice by calling 01243 974 063 or emailing energy@arunchichestercab.org.uk

Households in East Sussex can contact Citizens Advice 1066 by calling 01424 869 352 or by emailing energy@citizensadvice1066.co.uk

Becoming a Tackling Fuel Poverty Together partner

We’re keen to involve more of our VCMA partners who support vulnerable Sussex residents in our Tackling Fuel Poverty Together service. If you’re an organisation operating in the region and are interested in collaborating to help lift households out of fuel poverty, please email Luca Badioli, Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice Chief Executive Officer at l.badioli@arunchichestercab.org.uk

If you’re a healthcare organisation operating in East or West Sussex, we can provide free frontline worker training to help your teams identify and support households in fuel poverty. To request the training, please contact Charlie Young, Project Manager at Citizens Advice Arun and Chichester at c.young@arunchichestercab.org.uk.

Since the start of our Tackling Fuel Poverty Together programme, we have been developing numerous partnerships and services to alleviate fuel poverty and I have been amazed to see how successful joint working can be and the huge change that we can make in people’s lives. The support of partners such as SGN, UKPN, SSEN and Southern Water has been invaluable in the development of the programme and alleviating fuel poverty.

Luca Badioli

Chief Executive Officer, Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice