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Advance Notice: BESN Support Sessions

DECC and NEA will be offering three Support Sessions for BESN Champions.

The Support Sessions are intended to provide Champions with an opportunity to ask questions, share information and engage with other members of the Network. The sessions are open to all Network Champions, and whilst they are not a mandatory part of the BESN programme, both DECC and NEA would urge Champions to attend. Based on the geographic spread of BESN activity, the sessions are proposed to take place at:

• Manchester, 20 November
• Birmingham, 25 November
• London, 26 November

Feedback from these sessions last year was very positive with Champions commenting that being able to “clarify issues allowed for a more successful delivery of the project” and that “the opportunity to meet with other Champions” was useful and reassuring.

Register your interest: to express your interest in attending one of the Support Sessions, please email with your preferred location by 7 November.

You can help shape the agenda: the format and agenda for the support sessions is currently being developed and further details will be circulated to the Network soon. These sessions are designed to offer Champions support and guidance on the issues which are of most relevance to you and the delivery of your BESN work. If there are areas you would like to see covered in the sessions please send your ideas and suggestions by the 7 November to DECC will be attending these sessions.

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Age UK is calling on knitting enthusiasts to support its campaign for warm homes to help older people stay warm and well in the winter. Knitters across the country are being asked to create their own cosy knitted warm houses, which will be exhibited by local Age UKs during Cold Homes Week (2-6 February 2015). During this week of action, policy makers from the community will be invited to see the knitted houses and discuss the urgent need for warm homes. The Charity is also offering a prize for the best knitted home. For more details, visit the Spread The Warmth website.

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The 9th Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week will run from Monday 17th November to Sunday 23rd November 2014. The aim of the week is to warn those living/working in the UK that:
• Carbon Monoxide is produced by the "incomplete combustion" of ANY hydrocarbon fuel coal, charcoal, wood, biomass, oil, petrol, diesel, natural gas and LPG.
• The need to get all their fuel burning appliances serviced and their chimney swept every year.
• Letting tenants know what their landlords should do to protect them.

For more information visit the Carbon Monoxide Awareness website.

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Ofgem has published a new animated video, infographics and webpage aimed at consumers which explains energy networks and Ofgem’s role. They hope that this will help add transparency to this area and give consumers a simple explanation of what can be a complex topic. Further information can be found here

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Vampire Energy 24 - 31 October 2014
In the run up to Halloween, DECC are organising a fun mini-campaign to make people aware of the energy vampires in their home – chargers plugged into the wall, TV's on standby and incorrect settings on products that suck energy.

The campaign will be supported by two vines (see our Vine channel on the day) and the Infographic seen here.

How you can get involved:
• Retweet @deccgovuk tweets
• Reshare the facebook content on your facebook page and other channels
• Share the infographics and add your own spooky twist to the tale #vampireenergy






Switch for bigger daylight savings – 26 October 2014
DECC want to help people take advantage of their extra hour on Sunday 26 October when the clocks go back to switch and save money. Households can save up to £200 the first time they switch. DECC will be tweeting some tips on the day and it would be great if BESN members wish to show their support or get involved through social media. You could reshare the @deccgovuk tweets and the facebook content on your facebook page.

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Keep Warm This Winter

DECC have produced a booklet for householders and consumers explaining how they can take action to lower their energy bills and have a warmer home. The resource provides practical information on:

• managing bills
• financial assistance
• help and advice on saving energy
• installing energy efficiency measures

Copies of the guide can be downloaded from here

If you’re on social media, you can find out more on or Tweet using #KeepWarmThisWinter.

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--- Four fifths of Brits believe they understand their heating controls ---

--- Yet HALF misuse energy when they turn up their thermostat ---

--- Nearly 40 per cent of Brits think it’s more efficient to leave the heating on all the time ---

--- And only a quarter of bill payers have changed energy supplier in the last year ---

--- Campaign launches heating myth-buster and urges customers to switch supplier ---


Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign between Energy Saving Trust, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Citizens Advice – reveals 74 per cent of Brits are still worried about their energy bills. The campaign helps householders learn how to take control of their energy bills with free advice available during the week over the phone, online and at events across the UK.


Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of Energy Saving Trust, said: “Rightfully, millions of householders are confused by their heating controls because, let’s be honest, it is a bit of a minefield. There are plenty of myths out there and it’s no wonder people aren’t getting it right. We are urging customers to learn about the myths, check their tariff, switch suppliers and insulate their homes.” 


Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “The easiest way to cut energy bills fast is to shop around for the cheapest energy deal and switch suppliers. Thanks to government action to reform the energy market the number of independent suppliers has almost trebled since 2010 – encouraging greater competition which helps drive down prices. 


“We’re also making it easier and quicker for people to switch, and the major energy suppliers have confirmed that switching times will halve by the end of this year to just two and a half weeks.”


Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Every day, Citizens Advice helps people who are struggling to meet the cost of their energy bills. Eighty thousand people a year come to us for help with fuel debts. With prices up a third since 2010, it’s more important than ever that people know what they can do to keep their fuel bills down and what help is available. That’s why we’re running events up and down the country to help people make sure they are not paying a penny more than they have to.”


The findings from an Ipsos MORI survey of over 2,000 UK respondents show that almost four fifths of people (78 per cent) claim to understand how to use their heating controls. However, many of these respondents turn out to be using their heating controls incorrectly. Of those who thought they understood how to operate their heating controls:


  • MYTH 1: Turn the heating up when it’s cold outside. Half (52 per cent) turn the thermostat up when it’s cold outside. A home shouldn’t need this as the thermostat is there to maintain the home temperature whatever the weather.
  • MYTH 2: Turn up the thermostat to heat the room quicker. Over a third (35 per cent) turn their room thermostat up when they want the room to heat up quicker. This does not help a room become warmer any quicker and only heats the home to a warmer temperature.
  • MYTH 3: Leave the heating on low constantly. Thirty-eight per cent think it is more energy efficient to leave the heating turned on at a low temperature constantly, rather than turn it on and off. This means these homes are heated when no-one is there to benefit and then the home is too cold when people are in the home.
  • MYTH 4: Hot water runs out if you stop feeding the tank. Nearly a third (31 per cent) leave their water heating on all the time to make sure they never run out, which could be costing far more on their energy bills than necessary.
  • MYTH 5: Keep electric storage heaters on all the time. Our research also found that few people with electric storage heaters fully understand how they work (only 38%). This means that households with electric heating could be paying through the nose by not taking advantage of cheaper night rate electricity.



  • EST’s research also found many households are still not regularly switching energy supplier. Only a quarter of bill payers claimed to have changed energy supplier in the last year, yet we found switching is easier than people think.
  • Over two thirds (67%) of those who had switched energy suppliers in the last year agreed that it could save a lot of money, but only 31 per cent of those who’d not considered switching thought it could benefit them.
  • Older people are less likely to consider changing their energy supplier; 60% of those over 55 claim they are unlikely to consider switching in the next year, compared to 42% of those under 35.


Big Energy Saving Week (20-24 October) is funded by DECC in collaboration with Energy Saving Trust and Citizens Advice Bureau. Other partners supporting the campaign include Global Action Plan, Age UK and ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England). The week will help householders to take practical steps to cut to their bills by checking they are on the best deal, switching tariff or supplier and taking up energy saving actions such as using their heating controls in the correct way.


Big Energy Saving Week is part of a wider DECC initiative known as the Big Energy Saving Network – a £1 million programme to support eligible third sector organisations and community groups and deliver help and advice to vulnerable consumers.


In order to reach as many households as possible, during the course of the week there will be local events across the UK which will be run by a network of Citizens Advice Bureau and community volunteers.


Any people needing help and advice on any of the issues raised in this release should call the Energy Saving Advice Service (England and Wales) on 0300 123 1234 or Home Energy Scotland (Scotland) on 0808 808 2282. Householders in Northern Ireland may be able to benefit from the Warm Homes scheme – call 0800 988 0559 for further details.      


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1. I have events that are occurring after the existing final reporting deadline of the 14th March 2014.
Will these events still count towards our overall targets and what is the deadline for the submission of all Feedback Forms and Event Evaluation Forms via survey Monkey?

Information on events held is needed asap to allow DECC to assess whether the additional payments of £300 or £900 are due.

Whilst we accept that in some cases delivery of events may need to take place after the 14th March 2014, where this is unavoidable DECC ask that Champions ensure that all event evaluation forms and the data from the feedback forms completed are submitted in to the relevant March survey monkey links immediately after the event – wherever possible within two days following the event. Please note that all survey monkey links will be closed at 5pm on 02 April 2014.

In addition DECC ask that any of the other requirements that may be outstanding (Case Studies & Final Report) are submitted to the mailbox as soon as possible. Prompt submission of all information will enable DECC to make a quick decision on your final award (where eligible) and arrange payment asap.

A full list of the data and reporting requirements for the Big Energy Saving Network Grant Conditions are outlined in question 2.

Organisations are asked to note that any events held after the 31st March 2014 will not count towards delivery for the BESN programme 13/14.

2. What do we have to provide DECC to successfully meet the conditions of the Big Energy Saving Network Grant Fund?

As set out in original DECC BESN Fund Guidance notes (pages 13-15), DECC require the project manager/lead champion for each project organisation to ensure the submission of the following:

A. All Feedback Forms and Event Evaluation Forms must be submitted via the correct survey monkey links by 14 March 2014.

For those that are holding events right up until the 31st March, we strongly urge you to submit all additional data via the survey monkey links within two working days of any event. Please note that the final date for submitting data will be 5pm on 02 April 2014. We will not accept any data after this date as we need sufficient time to evaluate project outcomes to ensure we meet strict financial year end deadlines.

B. A brief Final Report from each organisation (please see template here) sent by e-mail to the mailbox by Monday 31st March 2014 entitled:

"Final Report - then your organisation name"

C. One Sample Case Study (please see template here) from each Champion recording the experience and subsequent actions of a Frontline worker/Consumer that you have engaged with during the delivery process e.g. if your org has 1 Champion we would expect only 1 case study, if you have 5 Champions we would expect 5 case studies.

Please forward all case studies to the mailbox by the deadline of Monday 31st March 2014.

The detail provided in the template is an example of a consumer case study and is for illustrative purposes only. Further details of what would be expected for a Frontline worker case study are provided at the end of the template.

The original BESN guidance asks for two case studies per champion, however, we have re assessed this in the light of what will be covered by the external evaluation and are now asking for only one case study per champion. The purpose of the case study is to provide DECC with a real life example how the engagement has made an impact on the life of the frontline worker or consumer as a result of receiving the BESN advice and guidance. Any further case studies submitted in addition to this will be gratefully received.

For the purposes of illustration a sample case study is attached to this e-mail showing the kind of quality and detail we expect.

DECC will undertake an audit of all figures and responses returned and will do a sample check on all returns and request further information (such as sign in sheets) to ensure that returns are robust and consistent with the original guidance for running events.

DECC ask that you keep a scanned copy of your sign in sheets just in case you are asked to provide these as proof of engagement.

3. If we are delivering other funded initiatives at the same time as the BESN delivery in session (for example Energy Best Deal), will this engagement count towards our targets?

The original BESN grant guidance doc (p19) clearly highlights the importance of “Additionality”, please see paragraph below.

“Grant bidders should be aware that any activity carried out in connection with the funding provided under this programme should be ‘additional’ to other activities carried out by the grant holder. For example, where a grant holder is carrying out activity funded through Energy Best Deal programme, consumer outreach sessions funded through the Network will need to be additional to these sessions. “

Practically this means that if a volunteer wants to conduct a public outreach session covering two separate programmes (i.e. Energy Best Deal (EBD) and the Big Energy Saving Network (BESN) in order to count such a session under the BESN you would need to present the substance of the BESN presentation IN ADDITION to whatever is required under EDB. Therefore, undertaking an EBD presentation and then mentioning tariff and switching options at the end would not count as activity under BESN – the BESN content would need to be more substantial than that, covering the substantial elements of the BESN presentation as set out in the NEA led training.

4. What are the criteria for receiving the final payment?

Our starting point when assessing the effectiveness of a project is the original bid guidance which set out minimum delivery criteria that covered both the quality and organisation of the outreach programme as well as targets for the number of consumers and frontline workers received.

A final payment of £900 per Champion will be afforded to projects that:

(i) meet the quality standards laid out in the guidance
(to reach a combined 100 consumers and 40 frontline workers, through a combined total of at least fifteen sessions (ten sessions to consumers and five to frontline workers), by 31st March 2014)
(ii) meet or exceed the consumer and frontline worker targets for outreach
(iii) complied with the data and evaluation requirements


 A final payment of £300 per Champion will be afforded to projects that:

(i) meet the quality standards laid out in the guidance
(to run at least ten sessions to consumers and five to frontline workers) and reach at least 80 consumers and 30 frontline workers, by 31st March 2014) (ii) can demonstrate that Champions have used their best endeavours to meet the consumer and frontline worker outreach targets
(iii) complied with the data and evaluation requirements

Please note that the targets stated above are provided to illustrate an optimal outreach programme; however we are aware that targets for consumers reached can be achieved through running fewer but better resourced sessions. Whilst DECC will in the first instance assess the success of a programme by the targets set out above we will also consider additional payments where programmes can demonstrate that targets for consumers reached have been met through fewer events but where the quality of consumer experience has not been compromised.

5. "I recently held an event where we engaged with 50 consumers where but only 25 actually completed a form which we have input to survey monkey. What do you count towards our target of 100 consumers?"How will DECC assess the success of our delivery?

In the first instance you should always refer to the aims of the Network as set out in the original guidance and would therefore ask, how many of the 25 or 50 people attending did/ could you have reasonably assisted to take action?

Factors we would take into account include the number of volunteers supporting the event, the length of the event and the facilities to host one- to- one advice at the end of the event. We would also take into account if the offer of one- to- one advice was made to take place at a later date.

We recognise that some consumers would not want to provide full details and in these instances we would encourage the collection of minimum data on the BESN Feedback Form provided as we need objective data against which to judge the success of an individual project.

DECC reserves the right to assess each organisation’s activities on a case by case basis and where sufficient evidence is provided to support engagement activities we would count the reporting figure to be 50.  However, without further information or without explanation as to mitigation for such a large event, we would judge the reporting figure to be 25.

6. When will we be notified if we qualify for a subsequent final fund payment of either £300 or £900?

We anticipate notifying organisations on an individual basis by no later than Friday 18th April. If eligble you will be required to submit a further claim (quoting your Purchase Order No) which should be emailed direct to and cc to

All claims must be submitted by 30 April 2014 at the latest.

7. What will be required following on from the 31st March from the champions/volunteers other than involvement in the Evaluation if they have agreed to this?

Nothing further will be required.
Once DECC has evaluated individual projects and completed payments we will assess the effectiveness of the programme in the spring, before notifying participating organisations of future opportunities to take part in this programme.

8. What do we do with the hard copy/electronic copies of the data provided in the feedback forms? Will anything else be required of us as an organisation after the 31st March 2014?

For the purposes of audit DECC ask that all organisations maintain a record of all hard copy Event Sign in Sheets and Feedback Forms from consumer/frontline workers for a period of 2 years beyond 31st March 2014 - the completion date for this existing programme of work.

Where feedback forms have been completed online at events, DECC have access to this information via survey monkey and will hold these records for the specified period.

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Big Energy Saving Network 2014/15

Hello everyone,

Many thanks to everyone who attended the Manchester session last week, it was another useful opportunity for us to hear your views and share ideas.

As I explained in my blog last week, I thought it would be useful to provide some more information about DECC’s plans for the future of the Big Energy Saving Network.

The great news is that DECC has agreed to fund the Network for a further year, with an increased budget of £1m available for 2014-15. This is a real show of confidence in what the Big Energy Saving Network has achieved so far, and is an indication of DECC’s commitment to maximising the impact of the programme.

It also hands us a real opportunity to build on the positives of this year’s Network, and, of course, smooth out some of the problems. One comment we have received from a number of delivery partners is that the timetables of this year’s programme are quite taxing. We recognise that by only completing the training in November, it was difficult for many projects to begin their outreach in earnest until January, as there is a natural lull ahead of and during the festive period.

We agree that ideally Network activity should be well underway before Christmas, as the onset of the colder weather tends to be a natural spur for consumers to think about their energy costs.  

The Big Energy Saving Network only received final approval in May 2013. This meant that once we had a final design for the programme and all the legal and financial clearances in place, we could only offer a short application window (2 weeks) in October before Champions were quickly moved on to training and delivery itself.

Next year, with a longer run in and a year of experience behind us, we aim to give organisations more time to draw up a bid, prepare their programme and get on with delivery.

Thanks for reading – and once again, we welcome your feedback. We’ll continue to use these pages to keep you updated on our thinking as the 2014/15 Big Energy Saving Network takes shape.


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Hello everyone,

As you know, last week we held a refresher session for Big Energy Saving Network Champions in London and a further event was held in Manchester earlier today.


The primary aim of the events was to provide Network members with additional training support during what is a very busy period of delivery, and to hear feedback on how the programme has been working so far.

Many thanks to all those who came along to the London event, the tube strike made life very difficult so it was great to see so many of you there.

In the morning session my colleague Dave Newton and I took part in a Q&A session, and a wide ranging conversation was had about this year’s project and how the Network might develop in the future. I thought it would be useful to share some of the topics we discussed:


  • We were delighted that the main finding to come out of the discussion was that Network members have generally received a very positive response from the public when delivering their outreach programmes.


  • Flexibility was one issue that came up a few times. We recognise that there will be many ways for Champions to deliver their sessions and meet the outreach targets.


  • For example, a number of Champions reported that in their experience consumers might be reluctant to discuss their personal circumstances or take action at an event. Others explained that it was easier to fit a BESN session into a broader advice event on, say, debt, and that it was difficult to accurately predict the number of attendees that would come to any particular event.


  • This was really useful feedback, and we of course understand that not every BESN event will be identical or each project the same. What we want Champions to ensure is that anybody that comes into contact with the Network receives the kind of personal advice that helps them better understand their energy costs and offers an opportunity to take action. It is up to individual Champions to determine what model works best. For example:
    • multiple, smaller events where consumers have an opportunity to take action on the day;
    • fewer, well-attended events where multiple trainers are on hand to provide advice;
    • general advice events that offer personal follow ups once consumers have had time to consider their options.


  • What really came through is that individuals Champions have been hugely committed and innovative in making a success of their outreach, often going the extra mile to follow up with an individual phone call or visit. 


I hope this is helpful, and we’d welcome any comments or further feedback. I’ll post again later this week with some reflections from the Manchester event and an update on future plans for the Big Energy Saving Network.


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Government is broadening support available for community energy projects under Britain’s first Community Energy Strategy

Under the strategy the Big Energy Saving Network has secured £1m from 2014-2015 to support the work of volunteers who are helping vulnerable consumers to reduce their energy through assisted action on tariffs, switching and take-up of energy efficiency offers.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

“We’re at the turning point in developing true community energy.

“The cost of energy is now a major consideration for household budgets, and I want to encourage groups of people across the country to participate in a community energy movement and take real control of their energy bills.

“Community led action, such as collective switching, gives people the power to bring down bills and encourage competition within the energy market.”

Read the full press release

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