RoundUp Newsletter | Issue 6
About our members for our members
Welcome to your latest issue of
Inside RoundUp: er P3 • Stronger Togeth nd P7 • Save money arou your home P9 • Question Time s P11 • Members Storie
T N A N E T ENT
Tenants go free.
M INVOLVE ING TRAIPNPORT & SU
Join us and be inspired to review and improve your scrutiny groups. This conference will be chaired by resident volunteers and all workshops will be hosted by co-regulatory champions jointly. Workshops: • That’s what I call scrutiny • Scrutiny in action • Being an effective group • Managing a project.
014 2 h c r a M h t 26
m p 4 m a 0 3 . 9 l e t o H t t o i r r Ma ET Leeds, LS1 6
To book or get more information about this Tenant Central conference contact: Freephone Email Visit Write
0800 035 6351 email@example.com www.tenantcentral.org.uk and subscribe to our mailing list. Tenant Central Team, TPAS, Suite 4b Trafford Plaza, 73 Seymour Grove, Manchester M16 0LD.
to your latest issue of
Jenny Topham Acting Chief Executive
When the RoundUp editorial team met to talk about the theme of this edition we wanted to make sure we were focusing on something that is affecting our members everyday in their homes. It didn’t take us long to talk about the difficulty we all face in keeping ourselves warm at home and eating well. We have seen the evidence from research
In this issue of
Steve Meakin MBE Chair
such as Real Life Reform which tells us that many tenants feel they have to sacrifice one for the other.
It may not be an obvious tenant empowerment theme, but we looked at the issue in this way; If you as a
landlord staff member or a tenant volunteer have this dilemma at home how can you focus on chairing your next panel meeting or coordinate an event or tackle an estate inspection? We all need to look after ourselves well before we can look after one another. We’ve asked lots of our members to explain how they tackle the food or fuel challenge as a tenant and a landlord in partnership. This edition is packed full of your stories, top tips and strategies for how you’re staying warm and well together.
RoundUp How are you promoting renewable energy in my area?
Energy Saving Tips
Question Time Page 9
Find out more at: www.tpas.org.uk ...click the links on the home page to follow us on: & 2
Stronger Together - Welfare reform We run drop in sessions for tenants about keeping warm on a budget & cooking lessons.
Stronger Together celebrates TPAS tenant and landlord members who are facing up to the challenges of the welfare reforms in partnership. Bringing real tenants and landlords from around the country to share their interesting stories of success.
See how they’re Stronger Together.
At North Lincolnshire Homes we believe everyone has the right to be warm in their homes & that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Many of our tenants seemed to be struggling with this so they came to us to see what solutions we could create together.
As part of a major improvement works plan we’re making sure our homes are well insulated & many properties now have air source heat pumps & solar panels offering a more cost effective way to heat homes.
We’re also supporting Age UK’s work with home energy checks & showing residents how to claim discounts on energy bills.
Meet Stuart & Stephen.
Stuart is one of our Support Workers & he’s been working with 64-year-old Stephen Bowers of Broughton, for almost three years.
“With Stephen’s new budget, he’s used some money to buy a new carpet which keeps his home even warmer...” We’ve teamed up with National Energy Action, a charity set up to cut fuel poverty & have created 20 Affordable Warmth Champions. Our staff have been trained to offer practical advice on how to become more energy efficient therefore keeping heating cost down.
Tenants like Stephen are becoming distressed about the rising cost of heating bills & want to work with us to save money. As with other tenants, Stuart worked together with Stephen to monitor his usage. Stuart helped Stephen create a budget planner where they worked out together how much he could afford to pay for his bills, food & how to save. It was agreed Stephen would pay £10 per week each for gas & electric. A new energy meter was fitted into Stephen’s home & the debt on his account was cleared. Since then Stephen has remained in credit with his heating.
With his new budget he’s used some money to buy a new carpet which keeps his home even warmer & he’s able to save towards his hobby of keeping fish & birds. Stephen said: “Stuart offers common sense advice & I’m being rewarded with a lovely warm home. “I really appreciate the help & look forward to [Stuart] calling. I’m now in charge of my own warmth with no concerns & with a bit of support I can live an independent life.” Stuart said: “I enjoy my job because I get to help people & seeing the end result rewards me. I’m here to make sure people can live as independently as they wish.”
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us how you’re Stronger Together in your area. Visit: www.facebook.com/StrongerTogetherTPAS 4
Green advice from a TPAS Member
Regional meetings are coming back... We hold meetings in the following six regions but members are free to attend any of them. We are not restricted by boundaries here at TPAS! South West, London & South East, Eastern, Midlands, North West and North East.
We know how much members value the TPAS regional meetings so we are pleased to announce they are returning for 2014 from April onwards.
If the event looks of interest to you please come along. Free for tenants and staff alike to attend. The meetings are relaxed and informative events to network and share good practice. For details of all the meetings please visit the TPAS website www.tpas.org.uk and book your place. See you there!
Contact Jenny Topham for Membership details on: email@example.com 5
Welcome to new members... It’s always a pleasure to welcome new members to the TPAS family. Looking forward to working with you: • Orbit Living • Hornsey Housing Trust • Greenfields Community Housing Trust • Victory Housing Trust TPAS AGM 2013 Members gathered in Birmingham just before Christmas for the 2013 TPAS AGM. Members had the opportunity to ask questions of both Michelle Reid, outgoing Chief Executive and myself as incoming Acting Chief Executive. The meeting focused on the investments and the changes that TPAS have made to plan for the future. And the AGM gave a great opportunity to update members on the work we have been doing in delivering the Tenant Central programme The AGM Minutes 2013 can be found on the members page at: www.tpas.org.uk
Call 0161 868 3500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on @tpasengland Like us on /tpasengland
Energy efficient At Gentoo we’re passionate about all things green. We want to inspire our communities and hope our passion rubs off through workshops, events and school education programmes. By bringing customers together from all walks of life, in a way that suits them, and offering a range of flexible ways to be involved, we’ve found people are much more interested in what we’ve got to say. Our aim is to help more people be ‘planet smart’ and reduce fuel poverty for all and to do this we share the following tips: • Turn your heating down by 1° to save 10% of your energy use • Wash clothes at 30 or 40° • Keep radiators clear - don’t block with furniture or washing • Reduce usage of your tumble dryer and dry clothes outside • When cooking, put a lid on a saucepan to reduce the amount of energy needed
• Only fill the kettle with amount of water you need However, if we were only to talk to customers about reducing their carbon footprints, we’d have a fraction of the success. Instead, we’ve learnt what is important to our customers and have put benefits on long-term behavioural change over one year into real terms: • Delaying turning on the heating from October to November saves enough money for a ticket to a football match • Turning lights off when not in use saves enough money for two cinema tickets • Turning your thermostat down by 2° from 20 to 18 saves enough to buy an iPod
“The outcome is a community ready to be more planet smart...”
As well as savings to fuel bills we’ve found surprise benefits including, improvements to health and wellbeing and being able to heat the whole house instead of one room. This has a knock-on effect, improving family harmony and even improvements at school.
These are the valuable findings our customers share with each other. It’s the conversations ‘over the garden fence’ that have proved to be most powerful. Not only would they see significant monetary savings but key messages will be taken into the community. The outcome is a community ready to be more planet smart and aware of how to help themselves be more energy efficient.
For more information, visit www.gentoogroup.com 6
Advice from the market leaders Great advice on Top tips to help how to save money by doing simple little save money things around your around your home. home.
• Don’t leave appliances on standby
Mend the drips A dripping hot water tap can waste enough hot water to fill half a bath in just one week, so fix leaking taps and make sure they are fully turned off.
Start saving right away – we’ve picked out five of the Energy Saving Trust’s top ten tips to help you on your way. They all have a big impact, so even if you just do one of them, you’ll still be better off.
Remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.
• Suds Law! Using a sink of water to wash up twice a day rather than having the hot tap running could save around £30 a year on your gas bill and around £30 a year on your water bill! (If you have a water meter.)
less energy than two half loads.
• Turn off the lights When you leave a room.
• If possible, fill up the washing
machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher One full load uses
• Use energy saving light bulbs If you haven’t already switched. They last up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs, and don’t cost much more. Using one can save you around £55 over the lifetime of the bulb.
Cooking Tips to help save you energy!
Tom Lyon, energy expert at uSwitch.com
• Only fill the kettle with as much water as you actually need.
With £274 between the cheapest and most expensive energy tariffs on the market, renters can’t afford to miss out. Move to dual fuel, pay by direct debit and manage your account online to earn valuable discounts on your energy bill.
• Use the kettle to boil water for cooking, instead of heating a pan on the stove. Not only will this be more efficient, but it generally takes less time too. • Make sure taps are fully turned off after use. This will help save both water and gas. • If you do not use the clock on your microwave turn it off when not in use.
Don’t be put off by longer-term fixed price tariffs – if you move you will be ok to cancel as long as you have signed up to one without a cancellation fee.
Trussell Trust foodbanks provide three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis. Everyone who comes to a foodbank is referred by a professional such as a social worker, health visitor or schools liaison officer. As well as giving food parcels, foodbanks take time to listen and signpost people to local agencies who can help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis. They’re a simple way for local communities to change local lives. www.trusselltrust.org
“Start saving right away...” 7
The Great Energy Debate
Question time on energy How are you promoting renewable energy in my area?
Energy companies are set How are you to make over £100 profit going to simplify per household this year, bills for what will your party do to consumers? change this when household bills are rising every year?
Why did the Government change the ECO funding (see opposite) putting contracts worth millions at risk?
With elections coming up in May here are some things to ask politicians...
How can you help me save money on my energy bills?
Confused about ECO? ECO stands for ‘Energy Companies Obligation’ and was introduced in January 2013 to reduce the UK’s energy consumption and support people living in fuel poverty.
It does this by funding energy efficiency improvements from money taken from the biggest energy companies. It is worth around £1.3 billion every year. Why should I care? The ECO supports the installation of energy efficiency measures in low-income households and areas, and in properties that are harder to treat. Many retrofit programmes carried out throughout the country by social housing providers have been or will be supported by ECO.
same time the Energy Secretary has insisted that the move is good for the sector.
What is the latest?
How will this affect me?
The Government has extended the ECO time frame by two years but without increasing the overall funding, this effectively equates to a cut in the funds available. Many landlords are reporting severe disruption to their plans, at the
These changes could result in works not being carried out on your home increasing the chance of you falling into fuel poverty as fuel prices go up. If you would like to find out more please contact your landlord or write to your local MP.
“The ECO supports the installation of energy efficiency measures in low-income households...”
How do I write to my MP?: www.findyourmp.parliament.uk 10
Member story: Leeds federated
Why we’re investing our time in energy
The Collaborative Tenants’ Group is a working group of tenants from 6 housing associations. Together the Group represents 13,200 households across Leeds and surrounding areas. Reducing energy bills is one of the ways we can help fellow tenants to reduce their cost of living. With
the changes to benefits affecting people’s income, this is more important now than ever. Most of the associations involved in the Collaborative Group each have their own energy advisor or equivalent, it is our aim to share best practice across the member associations to ensure that we are all receiving the best possible service and value for our money. One of the main things we are talking about is our approach to pre-payment meters and why they can work out so much more expensive than other options such as monthly direct debits. Although our associations don’t currently track which properties have these types of meters, anecdotal evidence shows that it is often the most vulnerable households. We want to make sure that tenants with a pre-payment meter have one through choice, not because
Member story: Circle Housing they simply inherited it and can’t afford to get it removed. We have learnt through talking to each other that there are ways of getting prepayment meters removed free of charge. Much of the Energy Officer’s work is spent educating and empowering people and making sure that they know they have options. We think that it is important for housing associations to start to record what sort of meters their properties have. Another project that has come to light through this work is how Leeds Federated Housing is integrating an independent energy tariff comparison site to its own website. We’ve had a play about with it and through entering your details it’s possible to save as much as £200 a year. We would like to see more housing associations offering this service. Once we have completed this project we are going to produce a report with recommendations to the 6 Chief Executives, we are working towards the deadline of April.
“Much of the Energy Officer’s work is spent educating and empowering people...” 11
How Circle Housing customers champion energy saving When talking to our customers, a regular issue is the cost of energy, paying energy bills and staying warm. As the price of energy continues to rise, we want to help customers reduce their energy bills and stay warm in their home. In 2013, Circle Housing started an accredited training programme for volunteers about saving energy, saving money and how to share information with friends, family and Circle Housing customers. These volunteers became our Resident Energy Champions. The Resident Energy Champions attend coffee mornings, residents’ meetings and community events to share top tips which can save up to £250 on annual energy bills. They have also lent out energy monitors
to help customers see how much energy they use and where they can make savings. In November, the Resident Energy Champions received low cost, easy to install, energy efficiency measures, including radiator
“The Resident Energy Champions also help customers switch to cheaper energy tariffs...”
reflectors and draught proofing tape. They have been installing these measures in their and their neighbours’ homes, helping to make the most of when they put the heating on. The Resident Energy Champions also help customers switch to cheaper energy tariffs, saving on average £130 per year, and claim assistance such as the Warm Home Discount. One Resident Energy Champion helped a customer receive a grant of £1,300 to pay off a debt to his energy supplier; he can now put the heating on and stay warm this winter. If you are a Circle Housing customer and would like to become a Resident Energy Champion or would just like more information about the programme, please contact Helen Coates on the email below.
For more information; email@example.com 12
Energy in Training
How to select good energy efficiency services as a tenant and landlord team. Jaden Cameron – Amicus Horizon
TPAS Young Tenant of the Year 2013 What inspired you to get involved with your landlord? AmicusHorizon held summer programmes during the holidays. We took part in new activities and went on day trips out. After this we started the Tulse Hill Youth Forum and I have been engaged ever since. What do you see the main challenges are in your neighbourhood? Boredom for young people. Peer pressure. Unemployment. How did it feel to be named TPAS Young Tenant of the Year? Amazing. Words can’t explain the way I felt receiving the
award. For me to be chosen from all the people in other communities doing good work makes me feel proud. What part of being an involved resident do you enjoy the most? Giving something back to the young people within my community. The planning of the youth events, like the Momentum Youth Conference. Meeting young people from different areas of the country. What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting involved with their landlord? To go ahead and give it a go, because they do more than what you think they do. Who’d have thought that I’d be able to travel
with young people on a few weekend residentials, and also go to Birmingham and Manchester to receive the wonderful awards that I have won over the past year? But most important of all, it would be to make a difference in your neighbourhood and be a positive role model for other young people.
Energy efficiency is a huge agenda for both landlord and tenant. It’s not in anyone’s interest to engage a contractor to install energy efficiency measures that doesn’t have a proactive and positive approach to understanding tenants’ needs. Involving tenants in procurement is an increasingly popular activity, not surprising really as organisations that involve tenants find that their involvement really does ensure that the right contractor is chosen and that by asking the questions that
really matter to them this leads to massive savings for all. However, we often find that its one thing to involve tenants in the process but quite another to offer them a meaningful role. The trap of inviting a few interested tenants onto a panel with a moment’s notice to add the tenant dimension isn’t helpful to anyone. If tenants are to be involved then they need to be engaged throughout the process and most importantly understand what they are doing and have developed the skills to be able to do it. That’s why training is so important. Training that isn’t last minute but planned and tailored to what the tenants will be doing.
“Involving tenants in procurement is an increasingly popular activity...”
Try asking yourself: • What do we hope to achieve by working as tenant and landlord procurement panel? • Are we clear about our role as tenant and landlord in the process? • Are the tenants clear about the purpose of their involvement? • Have the tenants been offered appropriate training TPAS offer training both In house and public courses - a great practice run for the real thing.
For more information contact the TPAS Training Team on: 0161 868 3520 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
an event by
the Southern finalists.
Good luck to the Northern & Central regions! Central final:
7th March 2014 Birmingham 2013 Northern final:
11th April 2014 Manchester
For more information contact Penni Pennington on: 0161 776 7192 or email: email@example.com