£102,000 worth of energy vouchers was issued by the Borders Housing Network (BHN) between April 2022 and March 2023, to provide vital support to over 4,000 tenants and their families as the cost-of-living crisis continues
The network, made up of Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA), Eildon Housing Association, Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA) and Waverley Housing, collectively managed 1,026 cases to support tenants with rising fuel costs in 2021-2022 which has soared to 2,247 cases in 2022-2023 as many more homes fell into fuel hardship. In the 12 months up to March 2023, the four Housing Associations noted a 119% rise in the number of households in hardship since March 2022.
Nile Istephan, on behalf of the BHN, said: “In the last year, we had to increase our resources and efforts to support the rising number of cases of hardship being managed by the four Housing Associations. The Borders Housing Network (BHN) worked together to address the significant challenges of rising energy costs faced by our tenants.”
In March 2021, after a successful joint bid, the BHN was awarded £450,000 in Scottish Government funding to clear or make significant payments towards tenants’ fuel debt in a bid to help with fuel poverty. Teams across the BHN came together to ensure support for the increasing fuel costs were distributed to tenants most in need. An amount of the grant £250,000 was paid to the Fuel Bank Foundation, to issue emergency top-up vouchers for prepayment meters to tenants in hardship throughout 2022-23.
BHN was also successful in attracting two further rounds of Fuel Support Funds in 2022 totalling £500,000 to support tenants with alleviating fuel debt. BHN will continue to work in close collaboration to help tackle poverty and improve the lives of tenants and their families. Successive Scottish Government Fuel Support grants have provided each Association with essential funds to support tenants through this difficult period. Specialist staff are now in place to deliver longer term support and assistance for the most complex cases.
Nile added: “Our partnership with the Fuel Bank Foundation has been instrumental in us supporting so many households in need this year. For anyone worried about their fuel costs, we can provide help in 24 hours in most cases so don’t delay getting in touch if you are concerned about your fuel costs.”