NEW grants of up to £10,000 are being offered to community groups across Scotland to help spread understanding about the introduction of energy smart meters.
A major new fund has been launched which will offer the cash to non-profit organisations which can help explain the smart meter rollout to vulnerable and difficult to reach groups.
Every home in the country is to be offered a smart meter free of charge by their energy supplier by 2020. The gadgets tell customer exactly how much gas and electricity they are using – in pounds and pence. It is also hoped they will make it easier and quicker for customers to switch supplier and find the best tariffs.
Smart Energy GB is the voice of the rollout and is responsible for helping everyone in Britain to understand smart meters, how they are being introduced and how they can help customers to get their gas and electricity under control.
Now it has announced the launch of its “communities fund”, which is open to not-for-profit organisations that can reach people who may face barriers to getting smart meters – including non-English speakers, those with learning disabilities, profound deafness, low literacy or memory impairment.
Other difficult to reach groups are considered to be those with poor digital skills or with no internet access. Smart Energy GB also wants to help get the message to off-grid gas customers, prepay customers and toe private tenants or those in social housing.
Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Smart Energy GB, said: “One of the biggest and most important challenges we face is reaching people who may not hear about smart meters through traditional routes, or who might need additional support to understand how they could benefit.
“These are often the people who will experience the most profound transformation in how their smart meters could help them get their gas and electricity under control.
“We can’t meet this challenge alone. Through the Smart Energy GB in Communities Fund, we’ll work with the organisations who already work with the people we need to reach – the charities and community groups supporting people around the country.”
The fund launch is part of the Smart Energy GB in Communities programme, which is being delivered by a consortium of charities – National Energy Action and Energy Action Scotland, Media Trust, and Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).
Small grants of up to £10,000 now available for community organisations who will work directly with one or more of the priority groups on projects to be completed in 2016. Applications will open from June 6 for large grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for regional organisations that will help reach priority groups.
David Stead, Director of Philanthropy at CAF, said: “This fund provides a real opportunity for charities to make a difference by ensuring that no one gets left behind in reaping the advantages of the smart meter rollout.”
Lord Bourne, Energy Minister, Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Everyone should have the same opportunities to have a smart meter installed and experience the benefits of accurate bills and being in control of your energy use. The grants programme is vital to support those non-for-profit organisations who go above and beyond the call of duty to help people in need.”