Warm and Safe Homes (WASH) advice service

National Energy Action and The Wise Group

Supporting fuel poor households to access expert energy advice

Our project at a glance

  • Participating GDNs: Cadent and SGN
  • Strategic priority area: Fuel poverty and energy efficiency 
  • Support target: 1,500 households per year
  • Duration: April 2022 to March 2023
  • Investment: £237,721 over one year
  • Forecast SROI: £9.05

Thanks to the support of this partnership, the Wise Group has been able to help some of the most disadvantaged households struggling with fuel costs in the last year, in addition to directly engaging with those living in one of the most deprived regions in Scotland.

Sean Duffy

CEO, The Wise Group

Why we’re working together

The impacts of the cost-of-living and fuel crisis have led to households already living in fuel poverty being plunged further into hardship, as well as a new demographic of customers experiencing fuel poverty for the first time.

National Energy Action (NEA) research shows that rates of fuel poverty increased to 13.4% in England and 24.6% in Scotland in 2022, meaning our VCMA-funded support was required on a large scale.

Improved energy efficiency and increased household income are two of the factors that reduce a household’s chance of experiencing fuel poverty. By partnering with NEA and Wise Group to deliver the Warm and Safe Homes (WASH) advice service, we’re able to address these two factors through an energy advice helpline service and community outreach events. 
Following a regional partnership we pioneered with NEA and Wise Group in 2021, we went onto develop a new collaborative programme with Cadent for 2022. 

Our one-year programme saw us co-design a collaborative Warm and Safe Homes (WASH) partnership, which aimed to support customers living in fuel poverty to improve their energy efficiency behaviours, access funding to improve their property’s efficiency and increase their household income.

With the foundations of our collaborative programme now firmly embedded, we’ve further expanded the programme to include all four gas networks from 2023 onwards. This enables vulnerable households nationwide to access the Warm and Safe Homes advice service for expert energy advice. 

Project objectives

  • Providing fuel poor households with expert energy advice and advocacy services
  • Facilitating access to the WASH service through engineer referrals, community events and direct promotion 
  • Managing a hardship fund to support a minimum of 400 households with energy crisis support

How we’re working together

Energy advice phoneline 

We provide an energy advice phoneline service, where vulnerable customers can receive support with matters such as registering for the Priority Services Resigster, help and advice with energy issues and simple energy-saving tips.

In addition, we’re able to support customers with more complex needs through remote casework, in-person surgeries and workshops. This level of support typically includes help with grant applications, supplier billing issues and managing fuel debt.

Community energy events

We also provide face-to-face support through a series of community events targeted in areas of high deprivation and fuel poverty. Held in community spaces such as libraries, GP surgeries and food banks, these outreach sessions offer in-person support with income maximisation and energy efficiency.

Energy crisis fund

Recognising the need to provide urgent support in response to the cost-of-living crisis, when NEA encounter a household in severe hardship, our ringfenced fund allowed the organisation to provide immediate crisis support through pre-payment meter top-ups, debt relief and supplier credit.

Media library image
a woman and a young boy look at a boiler

How to get involved

Accessing the Warm and Safe Homes advice service

All our VCMA network partners can refer clients to the Warm and Safe Homes advice lines for support with staying safe and warm at home. Households in England and Wales can receive advice from National Energy Action, while households in Scotland are supported by the Wise Group

Hosting a community energy advice event

If you would like to arrange a pop-up energy advice session for your community group in England or Wales, you can submit a request on the NEA website. For sessions in Scotland, contact the Wise Group at enquiries@thewisegroup.co.uk

You can find out more about other ways to work with National Energy Action and the Wise Group by visiting the NEA website and the Wise Group website.  

The WASH project has enabled us to support clients in England, while our partnership with the Wise Group has helped those in Scotland. Collaboration like this is so important for ensuring as many customers as possible are helped and those with complex needs are given the correct support.

Director of Operations, NEA