Wealden District Council
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Affordable Warmth Strategy

Affordable Warmth Strategy 2018-2023 – A Strategy which aims to improve people’s health and well-being by keeping warm and well in the Wealden District.


Wealden is a rural district located in the middle of East Sussex and is one of four other local authorities in East Sussex including Eastbourne, Lewes, Rother and Hastings. Approximately 80% of Wealden is classified as rural and 60% an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). As of June 2016 there were 67,062 households with a total population of 157,575. The local economy is predominantly made up of micro businesses employing 0-4 people.

Figure 1: Map of Wealden


Some excellent work has been achieved in Wealden over the last 5 years and this strategy provides a strategic framework going forward to 2023; building on the good work we have achieved in the local area over the course of the last strategy. The key drivers of fuel poverty are income, fuel prices and consumption. The fuel consumption of a property depends on the lifestyle of the household and the energy efficiency of the property. The effects of fuel poverty can include:

  • Debt
  • Self-disconnection
  • Winter mortality
  • Poor mental health
  • Impacts on educational attainment
  • Cold related illness that is made worse from living in a cold
  • Heat or eat

This strategy aims to make affordable warmth available to all residents whilst also adopting a “worst first” approach in the work that we do.

In March 2015 the government published a new fuel poverty strategy for England (Cutting the Cost of Keeping Warm). The strategy introduced a new Low Income High Cost (LIHC) indicator that describes a fuel poor household as one which has “an income below the fuel poverty line and higher than typical energy costs”.

Under the previous strategy government adopted the 10% indicator. This defined a fuel poor household as one which “needs to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use and to heat the home to an adequate standard of warmth”. One of the weaknesses of the indicator included energy price fluctuation. This weakness was witnessed in large swings in the national fuel poverty statistics. For example, in 1996 there were 5 million households in fuel poverty. By 2003/4 this number decreased to 1 million and then increased to 4 million in 2009 despite investments in the housing stock through schemes such as Decent Homes and Warm Front.

Fuel poverty image example

“The LIHC indicator accounts for the extent and depth of fuel poverty. The depth of fuel poverty is accounted for by the fuel poverty gap. This looks at how much a fuel poor household needs to spend to keep warm when compared to a typical household”

Source: HM Government. 2015.

 Through the Energy Act 2013, the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 (WHECA) was amended to bring forward a new legally binding fuel poverty target. The target aims to: move as many fuel poor homes as is reasonably practicable to a minimum of band C by 2030. A set of interim milestones provides a roadmap going forward towards the band C target as depicted in figure 3. Currently less than 5% of fuel poor homes in England have an energy efficiency rating of band C and above.







“Progress against the fuel poverty target is measured against the Fuel Poverty Energy Efficiency Rating (FPEER) banding. Similar to the Standard Assessment Procedure the framework is scored from 1-100 and rated A-G. The FPEER also accounts for the impact of fuel poverty schemes on energy costs”

Figure 3: Fuel poverty targets for England. Source: BEIS. 2017.

 Using statistical analysis on the annual fuel poverty statistics (for 2012) the strategy also provided some insight into who the fuel poor really are. Some generalizations were drawn:

  • Mainly families
  • Living in semi-detached, detached or terraced housing
  • Either owner occupier or private rented tenure
  • Living in older properties, either pre 1919 or 1919 – 1974
  • In work or retired
  • Relying on non-gas fuels
  • Have an EPC rated E, F or G.

There are a number of policy instruments aimed at tackling fuel poverty, reducing carbon and increasing energy efficiency. The table below provides a snapshot of the national fuel poverty landscape:

Figure 4: Table providing snapshot of current policy landscape




Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

On the 30th January 2017 the government published its response to the ECO transition consultation. The scheme was refocused and simplified to target the fuel poor better. More recently the government introduced LA Flex which gives the local authority the chance to sign off declarations for HHCRO where residents fall outside of the benefits criteria. LA Flex is a pilot being conducted over the next 18 months.

Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations (PRSEER)

On the 22 July 2014 the government published a consultation outcome on new legislation to improve energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector. From the 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for rented properties to have at least EPC band E for new lets and renewals. From 2020 the regulations will apply to all existing tenancies. Some exemptions will apply.

Smart Meter Rollout

By 2020 it is expected that every home in England, Scotland and Wales will have a smart meter. The energy supplier will be responsible for the installation.

Warm Home Discount (WHD)

An electricity bill rebate available to those on qualifying low incomes. The rebate is available from participating electricity suppliers.

Winter Fuel Payments

An annual payment of up to £300 for pensioner households.

Cold Weather Payments

Payments during periods of extreme cold to vulnerable households who meet certain qualifying criteria.


Feed-In Tariff (FIT)

An energy efficiency scheme paying households (on a quarterly basis) for the electricity generated from renewable and low carbon energy technologies. The scheme is administered by Ofgem.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

An energy efficiency scheme paying households (on a quarterly basis) for the heat generated from renewable and low carbon energy technologies. The scheme is administered by Ofgem.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) release annual fuel poverty statistics. The annual statistics report for 2017 shows that 11% of homes across England were estimated to be in fuel poverty in 2015. This represents an increase of 0.4% from 2014 bringing the total number of fuel poor households to 2.5 million. The total cost of closing the fuel poverty gap is estimated to cost £884 million.

Figure 5: National headline fuel poverty figures for 2017 (2015 data).

National average fuel poverty gap


Aggregate fuel poverty gap



Proportion of households in fuel poverty


Source: BEIS. 2017.

Figure 6: Average cost of closing the fuel poverty gap per the FPEER banding

Average Fuel Poverty Gap Figures example


Source: BEIS. 2017.

Figure 7: Average fuel poverty gap by tenure.















Source: BEIS. 2017.

“Local authorities have the lowest average fuel poverty gap while the private rented sector has the highest. The introduction of the minimum energy standards in the private rented sector should help raise housing standings as has been seen with the decent homes standard”

Figure 8: Average fuel poverty gap by household composition







“Multi-occupant properties and couples with young children are the worst effected households. Couples under 60 and single person households under 60 are the least effected household types”

 Source: BEIS. 2017.

This strategy builds on the success of the last Affordable Warmth Strategy 2011-2016 and action plan to help achieve improvements to promote affordable warmth and reduce fuel poverty for the residents of Wealden. The strategy and action plan focusses on practical action and partnership working between the Home Energy Efficiency Officer, Wealden District Council, health organisations and voluntary and community sector organisations. Under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 each local authority submits reports on a two yearly basis setting out the energy conservation measures that the authority considers practical, cost effective and likely to result in a significant improvement in the energy efficiency of residential accommodation in their area. These reports are published on the Council’s website www.wealden.gov.uk .

Successes under the previous strategy 2011-2016:

 ·       My Home

A rural energy project funded by DECC following a successful bid for

£125,000. This resulted in 230 homes receiving energy efficiency advice, an EPC assessment of the property and where required loft and cavity wall insulation accessing ECO funding where eligible.

·       Let’s Insulate Wealden Campaign

A rural insulation project across hard to reach communities which resulted in nearly 800 rural households getting free insulation through the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) programme.

·       “Big Switch” campaign

Delivered 2 collective energy switching campaigns in Wealden. In 2016 198 people switched and collectively saved £55,000. In 2017 953 people switched and saved £217,000.

·       Warm and Healthy Homes Fund

A grant funded heating programme delivered by the East Sussex Energy Partnership (ESEP) across East Sussex. In Wealden £80,000 of funding delivered the following measures:

  • 7 full new central heating systems
  • 15 replacement boilers
  • 7 electric night storage heater systems

The measures were delivered on a “heat first insulate second” principle with measures aimed at those suffering from the effects of living in a cold home.

·       Smart Energy Parishes

A rural energy project funded by Smart Energy GB and delivered across rural communities in Wealden in the format of a roadshow. The project aimed to increase smart meter awareness. The project was run in co-ordination with the Big Energy Savings Network (BESN) and Citizens Advice. Approximately 500 residents received face to face advice delivered at 11 local events on general energy awareness, bill checking and the benefits of smart meters

·       Pop Up Energy Shops

We have delivered 3 Pop Up Energy Shops. The most successful was held in Hailsham in 2014 which saw over 400 people visit the shop and get free energy saving advice.

·       Warm in Wealden

A grant funded pilot delivered by Citizens Advice to trial and test a central point of contact fuel poverty service across rural Wealden. During the winter of 2016/17 the following outcomes were delivered:

  • 230 people switched supplier at an average saving of £205 – over £40,000 saved.
  • 79 people claimed the Warm Home Discount which boosted local incomes by £11,060.
  • 62 people had fuel debts
  • 61 people signed up to the Priority Services
  • Secured over £30,000 in benefits/debt write offs
  • 23 people received energy efficiency measures as a result of onward

·       Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP)

A DECC funded heating programme which saw heat pumps installed into 157council properties to provide whole house affordable heating systems. The council have conducted home visits to all heat pump homes to make sure those living with the technology reap the benefits.

·       Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV)

Solar PV and Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting installed into 9 sheltered housing schemes. This has reduced electricity consumption by 50-70% in the communal supply.

Local Energy Performance Data:

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required when a property is bought, sold or rented. Wealden holds a dataset which contains information on all Energy Performance Certificates lodged between 2007 and 2016.

Datasets can be useful tools to help inform strategies and action plans. Care should be taken when reviewing data as limitations apply:

  • Gaps in the data: there are approximately 67,062 properties in Wealden but only 38,032 EPC’s recorded on the
  • Data duplications: Duplicated data and properties included in the
  • Accuracy: the data is subject to inconsistencies picked up by energy assessors when creating EPC’s.
  • Snapshot in time: over time the dataset becomes more unreliable as the housing stock is dynamic and subject to constant

Figure 9: Bar graph showing the number of properties in Wealden per EPC band.

Source: DCLG. 2016.

 The bar graph shows that 9.93% of properties listed on the EPC database are poorly rated F or G. Of the entire stock 19.45% have an E EPC rating and 38.86% have a D rating. In comparison 31.75% of the stock have an EPC rated A, B or C. It can be argued that the greatest challenge lies in closing fuel poverty gaps in F/G rated homes because the fuel poverty gaps are larger.

The greatest opportunities lie in closing fuel poverty gaps in band D properties because the fuel poverty gaps are lower and most common.

Estimated cost of closing the fuel poverty gap in Wealden

The estimated cost of closing the fuel poverty gap in Wealden has been calculated by multiplying the number of properties per EPC band by the average fuel poverty gap.

Figure 10: Estimated cost of closing fuel poverty gaps in Wealden



Estimated cost of eradicating the fuel poverty gap in Wealden


12,076 * £202 =



14,779 * £205 =



7399 * £427 = £3,159,373.


755 * £1568 = £1,183,840.


3022 * £918 = £2,774,196.


Total: £12,586,456

The estimated costs of closing fuel poverty gaps per EPC band have been calculated by multiplying the number of properties per EPC band by the average cost of closing a fuel poverty gap per each FPEER.

The estimated cost of closing the fuel poverty gap in Wealden totals

£12,586,456. When this figure is uplifted by 44% to account for the gap in the dataset the costs rise by £5,538,040 to £18,124,496. With 5568 estimated homes in fuel poverty the average estimated fuel poverty gap per household in Wealden totals £3255.

Local Fuel Poverty Statistics:

Figure 11: Table showing the number of fuel poor households in Wealden (2011-2015).



Estimated number of household s

Estimated number of fuel poor households

Proportion of fuel poor households (%)





















From 2011 until 2013 the proportion of fuel poor households declined from 8.1% to 7.4%. From 2014 onwards the number of fuel poor households started to rise.

Source: GOV.UK. 2017.

Figure 12: Wealden’s top ten fuel poor wards




LSOA name

Level of fuel poverty

Rural or urban?

Heathfield East

Wealden 014A Wealden 011B



Frant / Withyham

Wealden 002C




Wealden 018B




Wealden 005D



Five Ashes / Cross in Hand

Wealden 011A




Wealden 005A




Wealden 011E



Ninfield and Hooe

Wealden 014D



Forest Row

Wealden 001B



Hailsham South and West

Wealden 016D



Source: ESCC. 2015.

Fuel poverty in rural areas such as Wealden is exacerbated by the high number of non-traditional construction and solid wall properties and the fact that geographically 80% of the district is off the mains gas network which equates to nearly 30,000 homes having no access to mains gas. This coupled with asset rich but cash poor residents and hard-to-treat homes increases Wealden’s standings in fuel poverty tables. Without access to gas or renewable technologies, rural householders tend to rely on electricity, LPG, oil or solid fuels for heating.

Statistical evidence from the government’s national fuel poverty statistics (2017) suggests that rural fuel poverty is linked to rurality and access to mains gas. For example

  • 6% of homes residing in rural areas have a FPEER rated F/G.
  • 2% of those living in rural areas have a gas connection.
  • 8% of urban homes have a FPEER rated F/G.
  • 91.1% of those living in urban areas have a gas connection

One of the key barriers preventing rural fuel poor household’s access mains gas and reducing the depth of fuel poverty includes the high cost of getting gas connections. Alternatively, and as identified in the governments new fuel poverty strategy, installing simple measures for the first time, such as central heating or loft and cavity wall insulation can increase thermal comfort and help fight fuel poverty.

Figure 13: Table showing the number of excess winter deaths (EWDs) in Wealden (2010-2016)


No of EWDs in Wealden













It is recognised nationally that it is common to observe large fluctuations in EWDs for which trends over time are often not smooth. For this reason a five- year moving average is used to smooth out any short-term fluctuations and make the trend over time clearer. Overall, historical trends in EWDs in England and Wales show that the steady decline in EWDs since the 1950 to 1951 winter period has levelled off in recent years, with the most recent estimates more consistent with a slight five-year average rise since 2012 to 2013. EWDs levels are also influenced by the temperature and influenza incidence. The number of EWDs in 2012/13 was the lowest number since records began in 1950/51. This was attributed to the temperatures in December and January remaining over 2 degrees higher than the five year average. The peak in EWDs that was observed in the 2014 to 2015 winter period was attributed to a predominant strain of flu.

Service delivery in the Wealden area:

Wealden maintains close working relationships with a number of public, private and third sector organisations to make sure affordable warmth is available to all residents. Our current partnership base includes:

  • East Sussex Energy Partnership
  • Your Energy Sussex
  • iChoosr
  • Wealden Citizens Advice

We are looking to broaden the number of partners we work with to help tackle local poverty more effectively.


To reduce fuel poverty and improve local health and wellbeing, by promoting energy efficiency and government funded schemes to help residents reduce fuel bills. To act on climate change and help residents understand and take up funding, efficiency measures and renewable energy.

Key areas the action plan will focus on for the next 3-5 years are:

  • To improve energy efficiency in existing private housing stock and reduce energy demand in To help residents maintain health, comfort and wellbeing.
  • To reduce the numbers of households in fuel poverty and continue to promote this as a key
  • Develop and expand partnerships in the public, private and third
  • Monitor the aims and objectives of the action plan and strategy, collating information, reporting on
  • To encourage awareness and use of renewable
  • To reduce carbon dioxide
  • Maximise residents’ disposable
  • Raise general awareness of energy
  • To influence broader
  • To facilitate the development of schemes, projects and funding options for local initiatives.
  • Raise awareness of energy efficiency and affordable
  • Increase uptake of assistance for energy efficiency, heating and renewable energy
  • Work to improve energy efficiency in the Private Rented
  • Work to raise awareness and reduce fuel
  • Provide information about insulation measures for homes with no insulation
  • Continue partnership working with relevant
  • Enable residents obtain the best out of HHCRO through the blending of funding
  • Monitor local trends in the number of households in fuel poverty and the number of excess winter deaths to determine effectiveness and impact of initiatives


Key Task




Develop and extend existing partnership base.

Increase the number of organisations we work in partnership with.

Attend Winter Home Check Service working group meetings.

Continue partnership working with relevant organisations.

Continue delivering energy switches.

Work with the two clinical commissioning groups to endorse the strategy

Extend the partnership base. Attend 12 working group meetings annually.

Attend quarterly ESEP meeting. X1 energy switch annually.

Year 1


Citizens Advice. iChoosr


Raise awareness of fuel poverty amongst residents and key decision makers

Make formal links through reporting progress of Affordable Warmth Strategy to other groups.

Develop flow-chart of relevant organisations and how they link.

Establish information exchange between agencies.

Research and develop web-site links.

List of relevant networks Database of new contacts. Presentation and briefings (min 12 per year).

Develop and maintain website links.

Provide free training on fuel poverty.

Year 1

Key decision makers. Educational establishments Voluntary Organisations.

Other Relevant Groups.

Utilise EPC database to improve fuel poverty targeting.

Identify target properties with EPC’s rated E, F or G.

Identify target properties with no central heating, insulation and condensing boilers.

Develop spreadsheets for fuel poverty targeting.

Mail outs to target groups.

Year 1

Utility companies Third party funders Insulation providers



Key Task




Provide Support and information to those in most need

Link to initiatives already working with target groups.

Reach people through specific relevant events. Target private landlords.

Train housing officers, letting agents, benefit staff and other key staff.

Promote mechanism to improve energy efficiency of properties.

List of initiatives and projects. Attend 10 events per year.

Awareness sessions for key staff and landlords.

Use LA database to target landlords and tenants via mail shots.

Year 2

Energy Agency Housing Officers. ESEP.


Establish Referral System for all groups

Review services linked to affordable warmth and referral mechanisms.

Review active outlets and establish correct referral system.

Monitor and evaluate effectiveness

Seek opportunities for community involvement. Identify where there are gaps.

Directory of Services with referral details.

Development of links. Production and distribution of referral map and directory.

Annual update of maps and directory

Year 2

Affordable warmth Steering Group Parish Councils Health Services Green Deal/ECO Local Education Authority


Church & Community Groups

Engage Private Sector Landlords

Promote the PRSEER to local landlords. Use the HHSRS to target energy inefficient properties.

Inform landlords of benefits of energy efficiency installation measures.

List of regular forums and meetings.

Presentations to Landlord forums and tenant meetings.

Mail shots and presentations information to landlords.

Year 3

Housing/EH Officers Private Landlords Tenants

Tenants Associations Registered Private Landlords Estate/Letting Agents Parish Councils


Key Task




Provide advice on heating and insulation measures as well as renewable energy.

Identify and advise on energy efficiency schemes such as the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Identify and advise residents on fuel poverty schemes such as ECO and WHD.

Identify alternative funding streams that can be blended with ECO.

Facilitate new projects Create referral pathways

Use talks and presentations to make people aware of offers.

Year 3


Energy Agencies Developed Partnerships Utilities

Improve energy efficiency in existing housing

Promote energy efficiency in home improvement schemes.

Work with households in planning energy efficiency measures and give advice.

Work with and promote new partnerships.

Review of existing plans to bring housing stock to higher level of energy efficiency.

Identify and develop examples of good practice in participative energy efficiency advice.

Year 4 – 5

Tenant and Resident Organisations Registered Social Landlords


Promote information and financial assistance to householders

Establish system for collecting, updating and disseminating accurate information on financial assistance.

Use inter-agency referral system to promote grants and funding.

Promote the referral network to relevant agencies.

Look for opportunities to work with relevant agencies.

Promote database/directory link to websites.

Promote grants via referral system.

Produce mail shots/leaflets. Promote grant aid and energy efficiency at events.

Deliver collective switching schemes.

Year 4 – 5

Affordable Warmth Steering Group EST

Advice Agencies Home Improvement Agencies

Energy Suppliers Green Deal Vulnerable Groups


Key Task




Facilitate and assist households in getting smart


Make information available on smart meter to those in the private housing sector.

Investigate the rollout of smart meters in social stock through the voids process.

Raise smart meter awareness amongst landlords.

Promote knowledge and understanding of smart meters.

Year 4 – 5

Landlords Homeowners.



Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy


Department of Energy and Climate Change


Department of Communities and Local Government


Energy Company Obligation


Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes


Environmental Health


East Sussex County Council


East Sussex Energy Partnership


Energy Saving Trust


Excess Winter Mortality





Feed-in Tariffs


Fuel Poverty Energy Efficiency Regulations


House Condition Surveys


Home Energy Conservation Act


Housing Health and Safety Rating System


Health Protection Agency


Institute for Public Policy Research


Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government


National Energy Action


Office of Gas and Electricity Markets


Renewable Heat Incentive


Standard Assessment Procedure


Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations


Warm Home Discount


  1.  HM 2015. Cutting the cost of keeping warm – a fuel poverty strategy for England. Available online.
  2. BEIS Annual fuel poverty statistics report, 2017 (2015 data). Available online.
  3. 2016. Bulk EPC database for Wealden 2007 – 2016.
  4. UK. 2017. Fuel poverty sub-regional statistics. Available online.
  5. 2015. LIHC data summary.