“ENERGISING THE COMMUNITY, ADDRESSING DISADVANTAGE” THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY BASED ORGANISATIONS IN RETROFITTING IRELAND’S HOUSING STOCK FUEL POVERTY CONFERENCE, DUBLIN CASTLE 6 FEBRUARY 2012 OBJECTIVES OF THIS PROJECT • To describe the achievements of Community Based Organisations (CBO) in delivering retrofits • To set out the value-added and benefits of a community based approach to retrofitting • To draw attention to the challenges and opportunities for community organisations operating in the retrofit market • To make recommendations to policy makers HOW FAR HAVE WE PROGRESSED? • Draft paper has been prepared by consultant (Joseph Curtin) on the basis of information provided by all CBOs and other research • Interim findings being considered by CBOs: it is important to achieve a common position • Final position paper will be circulated by the end of March • Presenting “interim findings” today: feedback welcome WHO ARE WE? • 30 Community Organisations spread throughout Ireland • Each has a focus on their local area • Energy Action first CBO operating in retrofitting since 1979 • Legally distinct though similar organisations • Common thread is “not for profit” ethos We do not employ people to retrofit, we retrofit to employ people in our local community. We retrofit to tackle social disadvantage, high unemployment levels and environmental challenges in our area. BENEFITS OF LOW-INCOME HOUSING RETROFIT “The danger of ignoring “value” that we cannot quantify” • We reviewed the well-established case for low-income housing retrofits: • Average 2,129 KWh energy savings per household intervention under the Warmer Homes scheme per annum (despite “rebound effect”) • 0.5 tonne CO2 per home per annum • Government liability for benefits reduced over time • Ancillary benefits (Affordable Energy Strategy) • avoided bad-debt write-off; reduced cost of billing and collecting arrears • increased property values and economic activity • health benefits • many more… UNIQUE BENEFITS OF COMMUNITY BASED APPROACH (1) Local Economic activity and employment: • Operating in most disadvantaged areas • Creates Local employment opportunities • Supply chain in local area-Supports the local economy and small business • Labour costs associated with delivering CBO retrofits will generally come at low or perhaps no cost: (ability to leverage funding from a range of sources and programmes) • Provide employment opportunities for early school leavers, long-term unemployed, disadvantaged young people, drug/alcohol misusers, ex-offenders, travellers, people with a disability and carers UNIQUE BENEFITS OF CBO APPROACH (2) Training for the Labour Market and Generating Enterprise • Numbers Trained: Approx. 2,600 trained increase in these people’s work-readiness • Create an Enterprise culture in local communities: enhancing business and management skills and creation of off-shoots • Pride, self-confidence and dignity! UNIQUE BENEFITS OF CBO APPROACH (3) Partnership in the community • Deeply integrated/embedded into the local neighborhoods • Couched within a broader ecosystem of service provision to the vulnerable in the community • Many CBO’s deliver a range of other services including childcare, Rural transport, Local Employment Services, jobs clubs, afterschool supports and homework clubs for young people in disadvantaged areas, women's refuge, care and repair services for older people, training and enterprise supports for long term unemployed wishing to set up a small business • Result: a more effective and targeted use of exchequer funding avoiding duplication UNIQUE BENEFITS OF CBO APPROACH (4) Targeting the Most Vulnerable • Problems: lack of access to the internet, insufficient literacy levels, low levels of confidence filling out the necessary paperwork to access grants • CBOs have well-established network of contacts in their communities • In a unique position to identify households most in need UNIQUE BENEFITS OF CBO APPROACH (5) Quality of works: • Sometimes assumed that private contractors can deliver a higher quality service • CBO’s invest substantially in staff training and development. All workers trained to FETAC level 5 • Vast experience going back many years • Culture of not-for profit- focus on service delivery not profit • High quality of works reflected in auditors reports and inspections OPPORTUNITIES • Rapid expansion of Warmer Homes scheme Year Number of Homes 2000 1430 2011 20,396 • Yet 317,000 households were still experiencing some form of energy poverty in 2009. 80,000 householders experiencing extreme energy poverty • 2011 400,000 householders in receipt of state fuel allowance • Eligibility criteria for WHS to be revised? • Currently those living in privately owned homes built before 2006 , who receive the National Fuel Allowance qualify for interventions under the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme • Energy Affordability Strategy: Access to broader cross-section of most in need? • Entry of new potential partners into the market under Better Energy: new partnerships? CHALLENGES • Better Energy Scheme Market-Orientated Approach is a good thing, but: • Since 2009 entry of private contractors, could CBOs be squeezed? • Experience of Scotland • Trend towards more technically challenging and deeper retrofits in retrofit market. • For CBOS utilising labour market schemes high turnover of staff poses challenges • Reduction in levels of funding and increased requirements • Complying with accounting and monitoring requirements. CBO’s have succeeded in meeting the admin and accounting requirements so far… • Private sector businesses have a range of supports by comparison: “28 tax breaks, a government department with a budget of €2 billion and a variety of support agencies ranging from County Enterprise Boards and Enterprise Ireland to specialist agencies such as An Bord Glas” Social Enterprise Task Force CHALLENGES • Public Procurement Guidelines • no requirement to take account of social costs and benefits in awarding public tenders • Increasing difficulty partnering with local authorities • Exchequer Funding • Cut Backs to CE scheme • Recruitment Embargo on CE schemes • Qualifying criteria for places on labour market schemes • Stop-go nature of funding DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS • General Recommendations for Social Enterprises • Establishing a Social Enterprise Unit within the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment • Access to County Enterprise Boards, Enterprise Ireland, Business Innovation Centres for business and management skills training • Public procurement Guidelines: • Assess applicants on both social and economic merits • Permitted under European Union procurement rules • Italy and the UK examples • Partnerships with Energy Companies and other Actors • When CBOs and private contractors wish to partner with private actors, how can social goals be balanced with necessity to avoid unfair competition? • For government to resolve this tension…but how? DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS • Evolution of Better Energy: Warmer Homes • • • • Sub-annual or annual budget allocation leads to stop-start activity Lay off staff every November and cease delivery of services Multi annual budget allocations? Explore options of maintaining contracts with CBO’s year on year • Evolution of Labour Activation Programmes • 6-12 month turnover of staff: trade off between local employment V local training • With increasingly rapid turnover of staff and cuts to training budgets CBOs are finding it increasingly difficult to finance training • Participants on Tús Initiative are randomly selected by the Department of Social Protection: makes it difficult to find “best fit” no funding for training on this scheme • Tailor conditions of scheme to meet the employment, training and environmental objectives of the Better Energy Homes DISCUSSION Welcome feedback THANK YOU!