Before we begin – you can book your free ticket for the Tuesday 17th April “Is Manchester City Council taking the right action on climate change?” question time event (with real live councillors from Labour and Lib Dems, and a Green Party candidate, with lots of scope for questions and mingling too) here.
Right; The Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre – a vital source of information for people wanting to save money and carbon by insulating their houses – was looking like it was going to have to shut down. Central government was, in its infinite wisdom, pulling the funding from the provinces and going for a national helpline. We reported on that here and here.
Well, this afternoon, via “sources”, we received the following email from Michael O’Doherty. If you’re too time-starved to read it, here’s the translation. “We’re keeping the damn thing open ourselves, because it really really matters.”
Bravo, AGMA, Bravo.
For the past 10 years local authorities in Greater Manchester have benefited from a comprehensive energy advice service that has been funded by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) and which has provided support to residents on saving energy. From April 1st onwards, central EST funding for local advice service will be replaced by a new national energy advice line which will provide a light-touch signposting function.
Through the GM Environment Commission and the development of the GM Climate Change Strategy, GM has set challenging carbon reduction targets and in recognising the importance of reducing energy use in the home has set up the GM Toasty insulation scheme and is also developing a business case for taking a pro-active role in delivering the forthcoming Green Deal. Also, fuel poverty is a growing problem for many households in GM, as energy prices rise. Due to the importance of this agenda, GM local authorities have taken the view that a re-configured locally based energy advice service which compliments the new national energy advice line, will best serve residents in Greater Manchester.
I am pleased therefore to be able to confirm that AGMA has made arrangements for the establishment of a local GM Energy Advice Service which will work with local authorities and other key stakeholders in GM to offer:
* Free bespoke and impartial energy advice to GM householders.
* Access to the GM Toasty scheme which helps householders improve the insulation of their homes through a free or heavily subsidised offer endorsed by GM LAs.
* Engagement with local authorities, health professionals and other agencies to address fuel poverty.
This has been achieved through assembling a private/public funding package with key support from GM local authorities.
For the 2012/13 period, the service will continue to be hosted by Manchester City Council on behalf of AGMA – this service will be available from April 2nd through the new GM freephone number which is 0800 009 3363 – please promote this new number with your partners. Customers calling to the old freephone number (0800 512012) will be directed back to the GM Energy Advice Service.
Further details and information will be available over the coming weeks and much of this will be developed through working with key contacts across the GM authorities. Please feel to share this information with your partners and colleagues.