The Warm-Up

Energy prices have skyrocketed, leaving many in fuel poverty this winter. This trend will only continue year-on-year – energy is not going to get cheaper. Higher energy prices have a disproportionate impact on the vulnerable and the poorest, as they have less to spend and occupy energy inefficient homes. Dramatic levels of capital investment are needed to make the UK’s ageing and inefficient housing stock fit for the challenges ahead. This will help tackle fuel poverty and address the UK’s legally binding carbon emissions targets.

The Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), launched in September 2009, is an attempt to provide that investment. Funded by large energy suppliers and generators, the government initiative intends to increase warmth and reduce household fuel bills and carbon emissions through a ‘whole house’ approach to energy efficiency. The programme is delivered through the establishment of community-based partnerships between local authorities, housing associations, community groups and energy companies. This report investigates the impact of CESP through case studies of two schemes – the Rivers Estate in Blakenall, Walsall, and the Highfields Estate in Stafford.

The Warm-Up reviews the success of CESP both in its stated aims, and in generating a wider set of community benefits – instilling a sense of pride and confidence. It finds that when executed well, energy efficiency schemes that take a street-by-street approach can offer social, economic and environmental regeneration in addition to tackling fuel poverty and carbon emissions.