Trust backs Martin Lewis’ call for government action on fuel bill hike

The Footprint Trust has for the first time heavily criticised the government over its lack of action over the pending massive energy bill rises.  Consumers on the Isle of Wight will be faced with energy bill rises of up to £600 from April this year.

Martin Lewis speaking recently on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme highlighted the forthcoming price hike, the biggest jump for decades caused by global wholesale price increases. The situation has led to over twenty energy companies going bust.  There have been calls for the government to soften the blow for householders by cutting VAT and government enforced environmental and social obligation costs charged on domestic bills, which make up around fifteen percent of the average bill.

Speaking on behalf of the Trust their General Manager and senior energy officer said,

“The government is not to blame for the international crises, but it does have time to act now, to prevent thousands of Islanders falling into fuel poverty. Hundreds of people here are already turning off the heat and sitting in cold damp homes, this will turn into thousands next winter, unless action is taken now.”

“The government has a number of options, which could include increasing the Warm Home Discount and suspending VAT on energy bills, it could also choose to remove or reduce the green social tariff and to fund such measures out of general taxation.”

“In the meantime, householders need to insulate their homes, and replace old inefficient appliances and get into the habit to turning things off.  We urge anyone who is concerned to contact us on 822282 for guidance and help.”

Be prepared for Christmas

You can’t forget that Christmas is almost upon us, as the countdown started in October. Many readers will remember that there seemed to be a rule many decades ago, when Christmas displays and goods did not start appearing until after Bonfire night.

It is easy to put the other things out of your mind, whilst focusing on buying presents and sending cards, and ordering the turkey or nut roast!

The Footprint Trust has come up with ‘12 Top Christmas Tips’ for the festive period. You can of course add you own or turn it into a Yuletide Carol…

  1. Check you have a stash of emergency food that can be eaten without cooking it, in case of power failure, tinned food being the obvious choice.
  2. Keep emergency numbers and important contacts in an easy-to-see place, such as on the fridge door. These might be a nearby neighbour and your doctor.
  3. Senior citizens, disabled people and those with young children can go on the free Priority Services Register, held by your energy and water company. They can then contact you during a power cut, or mains water interruption, and get you assistance.
  4. For those with pre-payment Key/Card meters – check you have enough credit on them for the bank holidays. Contact your energy company and ask for emergency credit, if you have no money.
  5. If you are struggling with energy bills, then try just to keep your living room warm, and bedroom rather than the whole house. Do not let the temperature drop below 18 degrees.
  6. When cooking the Christmas meal try and use the oven for cooking the vegetables too, this cuts energy wastage. If you have a microwave oven this can be the most efficient way of cooking various meals, follow manufacture’s instructions. Put lids on saucepans.
  7. Avoid candles, they are more expensive than light bulbs to run, give off soot and cause hundreds of house fires every year.
  8. When cooking or showering always ventilate, and keep internal doors closed to prevent steam and damp traveling around the house. Extractor fans only cost pennies to run, or open window to get rid of moisture.
  9. Turn stuff off! If you are not watching the TV, turn it off and put the radio on or listen to music via your Tablet or Smartphone – they are much cheaper to run.
  10. Try and keep good quality wrapping paper to re-use next year, and recycle packaging you can’t re-use.
  11. After Christmas donate all those unwanted and old quality gifts to charity shops or sell on Ebay.
  12. ‘Bubble & Squeak’ is a good way of using up leftovers, and of course a turkey curry is always a treat!

Fuel Poverty Day hits Isle of Wight…

National Fuel Poverty Awareness Day – Friday 3rd December 2021

The local Footprint Trust charity are highlighting the fact that some 8,000 homes on the Isle of Wight are in fuel poverty. In reality this means that these householders are spending over ten percent of their meagre incomes on heating poorly insulated homes. Continue reading Fuel Poverty Day hits Isle of Wight…

Trust reports ‘busiest year ever’ as fuel poverty hits Isle of Wight

The local Footprint Trust charity has just celebrated its 19th year in existence and at the recent AGM the company secretary Sue Painting reported that it had just been through its busiest year to date.

She reported that the charity had the following Key Achievements in the last financial year which befitted many of those suffering the effects of fuel poverty;

  • Over 1400 people benefitted from guidance on reducing energy and water use and keeping utility bills down
  • Over 350 ‘Phone Visits’ this year
  • Average saving of £277 per household
  • £133,000 identified in annual energy savings for our clients this year
  • 700,000 Kilowatt Hours of energy saved
  • £24,000 worth of energy efficient white goods given to fuel poor households
  • Over 160 front-line workers trained in helping those in fuel poverty
  • Cut around 169 tonnes of CO2 emissions


The charity was set up in 2002 to reduce the ecological footprint of the Isle of Wight and to promote sustainable living. The Trust was born out of a desire to take action to respond to the ‘Ecological Footprint Analysis of the Isle of Wight’, published in 1999. In practical terms the charity particularly helps those in fuel poverty, by promoting energy and water efficiency which in turn cuts CO2 emissions.
They are recipients of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for charities, for their pioneering work in the community. Recently they received the Vulnerable Customer Support Campaigner of the Year accolade in the regional Energy Efficiency Awards.

This year saw one of its longstanding supporters and trustee director retire from the Board in June. Dr Hugh Walding had been active in environmental circles for many years and brought his knowledge to the Trust. Sue Painting on behalf of the charity summed feelings in this message to Hugh;

“Trustees and team members alike have expressed how much your faith in the Trust during the formative years meant to them and how much your help, guidance and consistent support is appreciated.”


The Covid pandemic led to the charity immediately ceasing their home visits and outreach and bringing in social distancing and hygiene measures in their office, along with home working. The Board and staff acted quickly and sought assurances from funders. The charity came up with new ways of working so that they could support their clients and the wider community during the months ahead. They changed home visits into pre- booked ‘Phone Visits’ – asking leading questions to ascertain the help needed.

This was followed up with information sent by post or by email. Their helpline on social media platforms continued to give support and guidance to the community. The charity increased advertising and promotion through local newspapers and radio. They moved our ‘Monergy’ workshops and our frontline worker training on line using Teams and Zoom.

Their General Manager, Ray Harrington-Vail, said,

“This year saw our busiest winter since the Trust was launched, our service to the fuel poor, was in great demand. An Institute for Fiscal Studies report in June 2020 highlighted that the Isle of Wight would be one of the hardest hit areas of England, due to the economical down turn caused by the Covid pandemic, effecting health, jobs and families.”

The Trust continued to work with a diverse range of formal and informal partner organisations during the Covid crises. They are founder members of Islehelp, a grouping of the main advice and information agencies on the Isle of Wight. The organisations they work with include; Citizens Advice, Age UK, veteran charities, family centres, Food banks, Social services, Health Visitors, Carers, social and private landlords, churches, schools and local councils.

The Board expressed their thanks to the many different funders which have made the Trust’s work possible.

The Board heard an example of one of the many local people assisted.

Feedback from a complex ‘Phone Visit’…

 *Kevin had been discharged from hospital and had accrued water debt due to a leak, his boiler was not working either so he couldn’t stay warm which was affecting his mental and physical recovery. With additional funds we were able to pay for an engineer to repair the leak – preventing future high bills – and check the boiler. As the boiler was unrepairable, we referred Kevin to the ECO boiler scheme and referred him to the Southern Water Affordability Team to work out an affordable payment plan going forward.

“…you’ve lightened my load mate, I’ve been stressing on this, been really, really helpful. Could never thank you enough for all your hard work. I really couldn’t.”

Kevin’s nurse thanked us for cutting his utility bill cut by £1000, and for giving her the knowledge on how to deal with his energy dispute. “.You have no idea the difference this has made to Kevin.” She added.

 

To find out more about the Trust’s work on the Isle of Wight visit their website

www.footprint-trust.co.uk or for assistance or guidance on energy matters call them on 01983 822282.

 

Winter is Coming and Island charities show how they can help…

The Island’s popular Riverside Centre opened its doors for its first public event for nearly two years. Some 150 local people came along to the recent Winter is Coming event which brought together a dozen local charity organisations to showcase the support they give to the Isle of Wight community.

Continue reading Winter is Coming and Island charities show how they can help…

“Winter is Coming – and we are here to help…” message from Island charities

More than a dozen local organisations are coming together to offer assistance to help Islanders combat the effects of the cold, increased energy prices, rising inflation, upping of National Insurance, cuts to benefits, job losses and poorly insulated homes.

The Winter Is Coming event will take place at the popular Riverside Centre on Newport Quay on Thursday 14th October 2021 from, 9.30am to 1.30pm. Those attending are asked to follow Covid guidance on hygiene and to wear face coverings.

 In the afternoon from 2pm to 4pm the event will go online,  details here
https://www.facebook.com/WinteriscomingIW2021/

The event is organised by the local Footprint Trust and Citizens Advice IW with their Islehelp partners, who will be in attendance. Other organisations attending include; AgeUK IW, People Matter – Team Around the Person, IW NHS Trust, Southern Water, Foodbank, Adult Community Learning.

Toni from Team Around the Person said; ‘It will be a great opportunity to see people face to face and let them know about how we can help in the coming months…’

Those attending the free event will be able to get guidance and information on benefits and money, grants, allowances, support for mental health along with cutting energy and water bills.

The organisers are particularly pleased that the local NHS Technology Enabled Care team will be on hand to explain and show the various assistive technology devices available for remote home monitoring.

The event has been made possible thanks to sponsorship from the Utilita Energy who have shown a commitment to the Island by opening a Hub in Newport High Street.

The local Footprint Trust charity will be on hand to give tailored guidance on energy matters following the massive price rises and collapse on many utility companies. Anyone needing immediate assistance with their utility costs should contact the Trust on 822282. Those with concerns over money matters or benefits and allowances should contact Islehelp on 08001 448848.

Speaking for The Footprint Trust, Ray Harrington-Vail said;

“Many people of the Island were already struggling to make ends meet, making choices between eating or heating in the wake of the energy price rises. This last twelve months was our busiest ever, due to Covid and the associated economic downturn. We assisted nearly 2000 people in various ways, helping them to cut their utility bills…”

The work of The Footprint Trust supported by Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme, the National Lottery Reaching Community fund and SSE Networks.