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Social Housing Fuel Support Fund Review

In her blog, SFHA Innovation and Future Thinking Programme Co-ordinator Gemma Connell looks at the impact of the Social Housing Fuel Support Fund. 

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As part of its Covid-19 relief efforts, the Scottish Government created the Social Housing Fuel Support Fund which provided funding to help social landlords to support tenants who are struggling with fuel costs during the coronavirus pandemic.  

The Social Housing Fuel Support Fund funded by the Scottish Government, and managed and administered by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA). It aims to provide practical support to social landlords’ tenants to help them to manage or reduce their energy costs. Most of the funding will be provided to expand existing service delivery by RSL’s however new activity was not prohibited.  

In our tackling poverty and demonstrating impact stream of work within our Innovation and Future Thinking Programme, we wanted to share the impact the funding provided to our members in their communities to residents and tenants. There were 26 grant applications funded which included partnership bids in specific areas, a total of 29 of SFHA members were awarded funding.  

The funding covered areas in Scotland from the Borders to the Highlands to support landlords in tackling fuel poverty. The coronavirus pandemic negatively affected many people financially as well as increasing the amount of time they are spending at home, contributing to the increase of fuel poverty in homes.  

Given the timescales of the funding, the majority of the funds were used in purchasing fuel vouchers for tenants however there was other practical services by social landlords to tackle fuel poverty.  

Prospect Housing Association used the funding to provide an Energy Support Week for tenants offering a mix of online group sessions, individual remote appointments and with their partner SCORE Scotland to provide expert energy advice and 72 individuals were supported over the course of the week. This will provide the basis for longer term energy support by Prospect. Glen Housing Association intervention included the purchase and fitting on kitchen basic white goods and install of thermal curtains and new carpets and underlay in homes.  

Several housing associations used the funding to purchase fuel vouchers for top up payments for their tenants. Faifley Housing Association provided 500 vouchers to disadvantaged families. Abertay targeted the households who have electric heating and hot water whose bills have significantly increased during the lockdown, over 230 tenants were supported to pay their fuel bills and be in credit during the summer months. It identified tenants who needed fuel support which Abertay will continue in the long term. Irvine Housing Association assisted over 260 of their tenants and discussions with them raised issues such as home repairs to make the homes more energy efficient.  

Queens Cross Housing Association formed an Energy Advise service as a long-term service for their tenants. The funding has initially support over 350 of their tenants including young people struggling to manage budgets, single parent families at risk of homelessness and tenants who lived in properties with low energy efficiency ratings. Linstone Housing Association supported 82 families who suffered from challenges such as mental health, redundancy, single parent households and individuals struggling to pay their bills. They ensured to refer tenants to external agencies where appropriate for continued ongoing support.  

There was a great deal of partnership working, increasing the reach of impact, working with other social landlords in the area, local authorities, schools to identify families that were struggling financially to address child poverty and other businesses such as HACT and local GP surgeries linking health and housing. 

Barrhead Housing Association utilised the Charis platform ‘Let’s Talk’ with the support of HACT to provides 24/7 access to fuel vouchers and cash cards, and a support offer that has been proven to help residents in these challenging times. They had a network of over 14 housing associations involved in the funding to deliver the project and support over 7000 tenants.  

It was a successful funding and provided a great deal of support for many tenants across Scotland. The Scottish Government have confirmed a second round of funding and we will provide an update on this soon.  

Feedback was positive from residents and tenants who were supported by the funding who completed the tenant fuel support fund survey. 

  • Alleviating stress 
  • More aware of energy advice 
  • Health improved since receiving support 
  • Better budgeting 
  • Ability to purchase food 
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