The Energy Advice Service to close following cut in funding
It is with great regret that Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust (KoSDT) will cease to deliver the award-winning Energy Advice Service (TEAS), which offers home energy advice across Sutherland to help the community improve energy efficiency – reducing carbon emissions and helping to tackle climate change at the same time, on the 29th March 2019. This is as a result of an application to the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) to continue the service being rejected. As KoSDT was only informed of the decision on Friday the 8th of March we will have no time to apply for alternative funding so we will lose the three members of staff that currently operate the service at the end of the month when their contracts expire. KoSDT will not be in a position to offer energy advice to Sutherland communities after this date.
KoSDT have been informed that although the application was recommended for approval by CCF, and was shortlisted to the Scottish Government for funding, there wasn’t enough money to fund all of the applications. Given the level of fuel poverty that exists in Sutherland, and the impact of the previous project, KoSDT find this decision astonishing. It is especially hard to understand given the Scottish Government’s commitment to maintain Scotland’s reputation as a global leader tackling climate change. It is another blow to an already fragile community.
KOSDT was granted £101,414.60 to deliver The Energy Advice Service from April 2018 – March 2019. The project supported 142 households across Sutherland, offering practical solutions to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, reduce domestic energy usage and cut fuel bills. TEAS have been able to assist households access grant funding for heating system upgrades, clear fuel debt and install energy efficiency measures, such as insulation. With Sutherland experiencing some of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the country, TEAS offered a vital service to households vulnerable to the effects of high fuel costs and difficult to heat homes. TEAS has resulted in an estimated carbon emission saving of 427 tCO2e over the project or 1371 tCO2e over an estimated lifetime, contributing towards Scotland’s actions against climate change.
Pete Campbell, Chairman of Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust said, “The KoSDT Board feel that the decision will reverse all the good work on fuel poverty and climate change that has been delivered through the organisation for a number of years. TEAS is now an established, award winning service that has developed and adapted to the needs of the Sutherland community. In December TEAS won the ‘Energy’ category at the CCF Awards for their work in 2017/18. Even this week we have received a request from an organisation in the Western Isles who wishes to shadow our team as it is seen as a leader in rural energy advice across Scotland – we were recommended to this group by CCF staff. CCF see TEAS as an exemplar of good practice. This makes the decision hard to understand.”
David Watson, the Manager of KoSDT added, “Although it is good to hear that CCF think so highly of the service, and the staff delivering it, it still does not alter the fact that the service will cease on the 29th March. There are a number of clients who are still being processed by the TEAS team and they will complete the cycle of support with these existing clients. However, KoSDT will not be in a position to take on any more clients as of today. We will work with the local Citizens Advice Bureau staff to try and ensure that people of Sutherland are not left without any support at all and we will contact them in the next day or two to progress this.
It is clear that KoSDT feel that this was a bad decision and although there is no right of appeal we do wish to take this further and make our case that more money needs to be found to tackle fuel poverty and climate change. Any support that can be given to us would be greatly appreciated as we feel this decision is much bigger than KoSDT and it negatively impacts on the entire county of Sutherland. It will not only reverse the previous good work undertaken but it also disempowers the entire community in their efforts to fight climate change.”
Notes for editor:
KOSDT has a legacy of running successful CCF projects aimed at supporting households in fuel poverty, including Greening Kyle from 2014-2016 and East Sutherland Energy Advice Service from 2017-2018. Winning the ‘Energy Award’ at the recent Climate Challenge Fund Gathering highlighted the exceptional energy advice service offered by KOSDT to households across Sutherland.