In 2012, National Energy Action calculated that almost 30% of people in the North East region as a whole were living in fuel poverty. Within Stockton-on-Tees, nearly 70% of homes were privately owned, raising issues as privately owned or rented houses are usually treated on a case by case basis, whereas programmes to improve social housing are more straightforward to implement. In addition, small late 19th century and early 20th century terraced housing made up over 31% of the stock in the Borough, bringing their own particular challenges with how to adequately insulate these types of properties.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council interrogated the information from Uno to identify areas within the Borough where there was a high density of housing with solid walls without insulation. These were formed into discrete areas which would attract Community Energy Saving Programme funding (CESP). Having identified these areas, the installation partner, Go Warm, secured funding for this scheme from North Yorkshire-based Eggborough Power Ltd.
The Council then were able to use UNO to further identify properties within the areas which required whole house improvements and produced maps using GIS to target eligible properties. The targets were those properties which needed external wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, heating systems, boiler replacements & heating controls and occupiers who required fuel switching, energy efficiency & benefits advice.
Although there was a slow uptake of both the improvements and advice, once the first few homes were completed, the scheme snowballed and ended with a 95% take up in the targeted areas. The savings in these areas amount to approximately 100,000 kgs of carbon per annum. Having seen how successful this scheme was, Eggborough Power Ltd, made funding available to a further three areas in Stockton and Thornaby. Any work that wasn’t covered by the CESP funds was funded by the Council.
In total, 1669 properties in Stockton-on-Tees received improvements under the CESP programme making it the largest private sector CESP scheme in the Country.
This stage of the project was completed in December 2012 and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council has now moved to take advantage of ECO funding. The region has a high number of Lower Super Output Areas and has already identified that a further eight areas in the area would benefit. The success of the first stage has contributed to funding being made available from EON through ECO for 5,000 privately owned properties in the area to have external insulation fitted. Some may also qualify for new boilers and central heating. This latest development means Stockton is the first council in the UK to run a borough-wide ECO scheme.
Feedback from the Council’s elected members and community about the project has been extremely positive. Sustainability Manager for the Council, Neil Ellison, commented “we can’t believe how other councils manage without UNO”. The wealth of information and detail within UNO contributed not only to the identification of properties but highly accurate and relevant information needed to apply successfully for funding.
There has also been positive feedback from, in particular, Asian communities who were quite heavily affected by the initial and on-going improvement schemes. The actual saving for clients amounts to a cut in their fuel bills by up to £750 a year. The works from the first stage and on-going works are expected to cut the borough’s carbon emissions by more than 300,000 tonnes per year.
In addition, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council have used the information that can be held in UNO, to form a collaboration between the Council, and Public Health to pull together intelligence about energy efficiency, fuel poverty, health and wellbeing issues in Lower Super Output Areas. UNO has helped to identify areas with higher than average excess winter deaths, hospital admissions and health issues due to cold weather. The “Warm Homes Healthy People in Stockton-on-Tees” project uses data from UNO, public health and Cleveland Fire Brigade to identity cold spot areas where the population are most likely to be susceptible to excess winter deaths.
Warm Homes Healthy People funding was secured from the Department of Health to fund a voluntary sector scheme where several agencies worked together through a Hub to provide help, support and guidance to improve the lives of those people most affected in the Borough. In the first eight weeks of the project, around 760 measures were delivered, ranging from boiler repairs to access to a buddying service. The scheme was such a success that the Council funded it to run again over the winter of 2012 – 2013. Taking this forward, the Council intend to integrate their Affordable Warmth Strategy with Health and Well Being Strategies across the Borough with a referral system giving a pathway to health care.