Climate emergency and energy transition are not standalone issues. Climate interventions can improve health and wellbeing, and CLEP can be used to address social issues (such as fuel poverty) and build community wealth.
Initiators could consider where this activity intersects with their current workstreams and budgets. If they have climate programmes which require community engagement, they could build in funding to enable this capacity building in preparation for future activity, or as part of other programmes such as Local Area Energy Planning. Similarly, if they have a team dedicated to community engagement, this approach may fit within its scope and budget.
It may be possible to attract funding from other local partners, such as the NHS or local housing associations, which have a vested interest in delivering a just energy transition and/or (in the case of housing associations) ensuring community buy-in to activities such as retrofit.
If initiators cannot procure funding based on pre-existing budgets, they may want to work as a partnership or consortium to seek finance. Working with community groups and local charities which want to support or be involved in the process could also open doors to other sources of funding.
National funds such as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and the Levelling Up Fund may also be suitable to finance this type of activity. In addition, local Net Zero Hubs may also provide support in accessing funding for a CLEP process.
The funding and resource required for the CLEP process will depend on how extensive the initiators want the work to be. Due to the scale of the work, the project team will need to be employed by a suitable partner. Oldham Energy Futures consisted of a team from four different organisations which received grant funding and a similar approach could be taken if this approach is commissioned by a local authority. At its core a CLEP process requires finance for:
- A delivery team. This should typically include:
- one project co-ordinator;
- one engagement worker dedicated to the recruitment and retention of participants in the process, and to act as co-facilitator in workshops;
- one skilled community facilitator with basic energy systems knowledge;
- four workshop leaders with expertise in relevant energy themes.
Beneficial additional resources include a communications lead to support during prepare and share phases (for recruitment and Community-Led Energy Action Plan creation), and expert witnesses to share in-person or virtual good practice examples within the workshops.
- Remuneration for participants involved in the process. Oldham Energy Futures paid group members £50 per workshop based on the Living Wage for five hours of their time.
During recruitment, it is important to highlight and discuss this reimbursement with group members as it may affect their benefits if they are in receipt of them. See this guide for more information on how paid participation may impact peoples’ benefits.
What motivated you to get involved in the programme?
“I was initially asked to stand-in and feedback on the first session content for my mum who couldn’t make it that week but was interesting anyway, I found it very interesting and engaging but was definitely encouraged by the financial incentive as without it I could not justify dividing my efforts with studying and finding other income.”Sholver group member
- Expert input for data analysis. For example, Oldham Energy Futures worked with the Centre for Sustainable Energy to produce a neighbourhood-level assessment of solar potential with a particular focus on community energy. This was used during the Renewable Energy Generation workshops and informed the development of the groups’ solutions. Similar work will have a cost associated.
- Time to co-produce the final Community-led Energy Action Plan. It may be appropriate to commission additional external input depending on the skills within the delivery team and their organisations.
- Workshop materials, venue hire and catering.
- Core costs. For example office hire and IT equipment.
Oldham Energy Futures demonstrated that providing funding for community action projects to build concrete action following the initial capacity building process is valuable. Funding for further community engagement alongside or following the development of the Community-led Energy Action Plan would also be beneficial.
To boost the impact of this programme, it is strongly advised to invest in building capacity within the local authority in relation to community-led and community-owned solutions to energy transition. If the initiator is a local authority this capacity building can have a significant impact for the development of community-owned solutions.
Bristol City Council’s work enabling community energy is one example of how local authority investment into capacity and a demonstrative commitment to community-led solutions can make a significant impact in a local place.