ESSEX not-for-profit organisations and community groups are being invited to apply for funding to help local communities combat the growing threat of fuel poverty and emerging vulnerabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Growing numbers of families are struggling to pay their energy bills and UK Power Networks, who distribute electricity across the East of England, has opened applications for the fourth round of its Power Partners support scheme.
The Money Advice Trust and Citizens Advice have both cited the coronavirus impact on household finances, with claims for Universal Credit increasing hugely and the potential to worsen this winter if unemployment rises.
Combined with other factors such as increase in household energy use and difficulties in accessing support, this could plunge more households into fuel poverty, as reported by National Energy Action.
The Power Partners community fund invests around £300,000 annually with individual grants of up to £20,000 available in round four. Applications are now open and run until November 15.
Giulia Privitera, social sustainability strategy and programme manager for UK Power Networks, said: “We understand people’s circumstances may have been changed by coronavirus, and a growing number of households are now needing help.
“There are real financial difficulties in keeping hard-to-heat homes warm so we have focused the fourth round of our Power Partners scheme on targeted support through the charities and organisations who can provide it in the most innovative way. We take an inclusive approach and aim to reach as many people as possible, from families to individuals who are living in vulnerable circumstances.
“For some people this will be the first time they might need to reach out for support as their financial and social circumstances have recently changed. We seek organisations who have found new Covid-safe ways to help those who are struggling the most.
“The Power Partners scheme has already made a difference, but we appreciate the pressures caused by an unprecedented pandemic are growing and will ensure that the successful applicants in round four receive funding for projects that can make a real and lasting impact.”
The funding will focus on support services to increase energy resilience and income maximisation with a key focus on projects which support those experiencing emerging vulnerabilities resulting from coronavirus or entering fuel poverty as a result of the pandemic.
The fund, administered in partnership with leading energy justice charity the Centre for Sustainable Energy, is open to not-for-profit organisations and community organisations and applications can be made via their website. For more details email@example.com or call 0117 934 1400.