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Booking is now open for this year's NEA annual conference which will be held at Sheffield City Hall from Monday 14 - Wednesday 16 September 2015. Further details, including themes and speakers, will be announced in the spring.

NEA is currently offering a range of discounts for booking early:

• Book and pay for your delegate place by 31 March 2015 and receive a 20% discount
• Book and pay for your delegate place between 1 April-30 June 2015 and receive a 10% discount

These discounts are in addition to the usual discounts for NEA members.

For more information and to book your place visit the NEA website.

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Energy Efficiency Best Practice Awards

**Closing date Friday 13 March**

Are you involved in helping to improve energy efficiency in your local community?

British Gas and fuel poverty charity National Energy Action are inviting applications for the Energy Efficiency Best Practice Awards. Eight organisations with a track record of delivering projects to save energy and reduce CO2 will win up to £5000 to help them in future energy-saving initiatives.

The awards will support the British Gas and NEA Community Action Partnership, which is being delivered with councils across the UK. The scheme is open to not-for-profit and statutory agencies delivering projects in the following locations:

• City of Cardiff
• Northamptonshire
• Walsall
• Enfield
• Barking and Dagenham
• Greater Manchester
• North East of England (Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham)
• Liverpool

To apply download the guidance notes here and the application form here.

For more information visit the NEA website or contact Claire Henderson, telephone 0191 269 2909.

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The Final Report for the Evaluation of the 2013/14 Big Energy Saving Network has been published today. This evaluation aims to review the following:

• the impact of the programme on different types/groups of vulnerable individuals
• the effectiveness of programme processes at each stage of the implementation
• the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the programme.

Highlights from the report include:

• The programme was successful in reaching over 90,000 low-income and vulnerable consumers – around 16,000 via workshops and a further 78,000 through frontline workers.
• Nearly one third of attendees to BESN workshops got in touch with their energy supplier about their tariffs, or switched supplier, or applied for an ECO assessment.
• Around half (51%) say they now spend less on heating their home because of their engagement with the BESN.

Data was gathered through a combination of methods including surveys and in-depth interviews with champions, volunteers, frontline workers and participants, and the analysis of programme monitoring data. This report discusses the outputs of this, covering insights into the theory behind BESN, how it was delivered in practice and what it achieved. The BESN Team would like to thank everyone who took part in the evaluation and for your valued contributions.

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February Monthly Summary Report

Your Monthly Summary covering BESN activity in February is due by the 28th February via SurveyMonkey.

It is vital that we receive a Report from individual Champions so we can get a clear idea of all BESN activity and keep in touch with you. It is important that you also complete and save an electronic copy of the information submitted in your report for your own record. The quickest way to do this, is to complete the Word template of the report, save it and then use this to ‘paste’ your answers into SurveyMonkey.
 

The link to access SurveyMonkey to complete your February report is here (please only access this link when you are ready to complete your entry in one-sitting). If you experience any difficulties whilst submitting your monthly report contact us at BESN@decc.gsi.gov.uk (remembering to include your BESN reference number so we can easily identify your organisation).


The format of the BESN Final Report, due on the 20th March, is likely to be very similar to the Interim Report and so it is crucial that you keep a record of the information included in your Monthly Summary reports to help you fill in the data required for the Final Report. A template for the Final Report will be circulated to the Network shortly.

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Have you got a question about how the government is helping people to manage their energy bills and keep warm? Perhaps you’d like to know what’s being done to help older and vulnerable people with their energy needs?

Baroness Verma from the Department of Energy & Climate Change will be taking part in a live webchat with Gransnet on Monday 23 February (12.30-13.30). Get your questions in now!

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Fair play for prepay

Citizens Advice have launched a film about the experiences of pay-as-you-go energy customers, the problems they face and what they want suppliers to do in order to give consumers a fairer deal. Have a look at the film here

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Renewable Heat Incentive roadshows

Did you know that people can get extra money to help them replace the heating system in their home? The Renewable Heat Incentive gives people regular payments to install new technologies - so they can save energy and money. The Department of Energy and Climate Change are on the road in February and March talking to local authorities, businesses and consumers about Renewable Heating, energy efficiency and the Green Deal. The events are free to attend. People can reserve their space at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/department-of-energy-amp-climate-change-7825529924?s=31931667 - workshops will take place in Ipswich, Norwich and Lincoln next week.

If DECC are not visiting your area, people can find out more at www.gov.uk/domestic-renewable-heat-incentive or by calling the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.

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‘Power to switch’ launches

The Government’s ‘Power to Switch’ campaign went live today, and you should hopefully see adverts on your TV, on billboards and in newspapers over the coming weeks.

We are pleased to say that the BESN formed a key part of the campaign announcement on Monday, with BESN delivery partner Manor House Development Trust featuring on ITV’s Good Morning Britain!

You can see the segment here on the ITV player https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/good-morning-britain/series-2/episode-31 (sign up & log in required) at about 38mins 30secs into the programme. The feature provided some really positive coverage of the Network, and you will see the presenters were very positive about the idea of community-based energy advice!

Campaign materials

You are now able to access the campaign’s promotional materials should you wish to use these to support your BESN delivery. The materials are in a password-protected dropbox folder http://bit.ly/19BuiCd This includes:

•TV ad for YouTube
•TV ad for Facebook (Facebook and YouTube have the same spec, so there's just one video in the folder in total)
•All digital adverts to date
•Press adverts in format close to A5

The password to access this folder is: SwitchandSave2015

If you want to see the TV advert now, you can find it on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt_foOl9jRg

And you can read more about the campaign launch at Manor House on DECC’s ‘Keep Warm This Winter’ Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/warmthiswinter

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Energy Switching Campaign

DECC will be announcing an energy switching campaign next week. It will run until the end of March. The aim of the campaign is to encourage more people to switch their energy supplier/tariff to save money. There will be a widespread media campaign, including newspaper, radio and television advertising. The primary audience are those who have never switched or who have not switched recently.

We would like the Network to help us reach consumers who may need additional help with switching. We are developing campaign materials that we can share with you prior to the launch on Thursday 19th February. This will include a press release and downloadable posters for you to use. Members of the Network are encouraged to refer people to the BeAnEnergyShopper.com website (which will go live from Tuesday 17th) or call the ESAS phone number (0300 123 1234).

***Please note that we thought it would be useful to give you advance warning of the launch of the campaign, however this information is embargoed until Monday 16th February 2015 so we ask that you not share it more widely until then***

Please let us know how you get on with promoting this campaign by sending an email to BESN@decc.gsi.gov.uk

Government Electricity Rebate

In addition to the switching campaign, we would like your help to let as many pre-payment meter customers know that time is running out for them to redeem their £12 Government Electricity Rebate Voucher if they haven’t done so already. They must use their voucher by 28 February 2015. After this, they will not be able to get the rebate.

The Government Electricity Rebate is a £12 government contribution to help lower the impacts of Government environmental and social policy costs on consumer energy bills. It is part of a wider package of measures which will reduce household energy bills by an average of around £50 per year.

We particularly want to focus our communications on areas where there has been low uptake of the voucher. This includes areas such as:

• Aberdeen
• Brighton
• Bristol
• Canterbury
• Croydon
• Dundee
• Ilford
• Liverpool
• London
• Perth
• Southampton

We would encourage you to use your communication channels to tell people that the £12 rebate is available for a limited period only and for them not to miss out.

Pay As You Go customers were sent a voucher in November 2014 to be redeemed for electricity credit when they topped up at their retail outlet. PayPoint, Payzone and Post Office outlets are all able to transfer the credit onto customers’ Pay As You Go keys.

If people haven’t got their pre-payment voucher, they should contact their energy supplier. To find out more information visit GOV.UK

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Downloading documents from Ning

** This has now been resolved and you should be able to download documents/files as usual **

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We are aware that there is a temporary issue preventing you from downloading some of the documents available on Ning - we are working to resolve this ASAP. In the meantime, if you require copies of any documents that the BESN Team have uploaded to Ning, i.e. the Top Tips or case study templates, please contact BESN@decc.gsi.gov.uk and we'll send you them via email.

Thanks, the BESN Team

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The UK is increasingly under threat from the effects of climate change – which in turn could increase inequalities and disadvantage.

A new website launched today – Climate Just - is designed to help local authorities and other organisations working on climate change, or working with vulnerable communities, to respond to this challenge.

The site has been developed in partnership by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Climate UK, the Environment Agency and the University of Manchester.

Climate Just highlights which people and places are likely to be most vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather, including flooding and extreme heat, and actions that can be taken to respond. It provides a wealth of free resources, including:

• information on which people and places are most vulnerable to climate impacts;
• maps that identify areas of social vulnerability, exposure to flooding and heat and overall climate disadvantage in your local area;
• information about who is most at risk of fuel poverty and how to tackle this;
• case studies showing how different organisations are responding to climate change;
• tools, reports and presentations to help you to take action.

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The Cold Weather Payment

We know that January and February are usually the coldest months (on average) and so you would expect to see a higher number of Cold Weather Payments (CWP) being triggered. This has indeed been the case and to date CWPs have been triggered 24 times, but before January there had been just 6 triggers resulting in payments to just 11,200 people – all of which were in Scotland.

Please find below a summary of the CWP and an update on CWPs made to date (23rd Jan 2015) this season. You will see from the information below that triggers have increased to 24 (the vast majority in Scotland) with the number of recipients increasing to 324,700 (just over half were in receipt of Pension Credit).

The Cold Weather Payment

The Social Fund Cold Weather Payments scheme runs from 1 November to 31 March each year – this is known as the CWP season – and is intended to help people to meet their additional heating costs during periods of extreme cold.

Payment is made automatically when the average temperature at the weather station linked to an eligible customer’s postcode has been recorded as, or is forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days. There are 93 weather stations used in the Cold Weather Payments scheme for 2014 to 2015. The payment is £25 for each 7-day period of very cold weather.

Payments are made to those most vulnerable to the cold:
• older people receiving Pension Credit
• disabled adults and children
• families with children aged under 5 that are receiving an income-related benefit

2014-15 season stats update:

• DWP estimates that this season that there are 3.8 million eligible recipients of the CWP, 2.1 million (55%) of these are older people in receipt of Pension Credit.
• So far this season 337,000 payments have been made to 324,700 recipients; of these payments 185,800 were made to older people in receipt of Pensioner Credit.
• Estimated expenditure to date this season is £8,425,000; £4645000 of this expenditure has been among Pension Credit recipients.
• CWPs to date (November 1st 2014 – 23rd January 2015) are mostly in Scotland, with a small number in Yorkshire, one in Cumbria and one in Wales

Source: DWP 2015

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Ovo Energy price decrease

Ovo Energy have announced a drop in the price of its Standard Variable Tariff – Simpler – by 5.8% (for dual fuel, 10.4% drop for gas) to reflect falling wholesale costs, resulting in an average saving of £65 per year - see more on their website.

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Information on Smart Meters

Following on from the presentation and discussion on the introduction of smart meters at the recent BESN Workshops, we'd like to signpost you to a DECC leaflet explaining how data from smart meters is expected to transform the market for energy services.

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