Fiona - Electric Tricycle User, Age 51.
'I purchased an electric tricycle as I have Multiple Sclerosis and can no longer ride a bicycle due to poor balance and mobility issues. I have found that being out on my tricycle that my fitness has improved and it has had an impact on weight loss. With the pedal assist I am still able to pedal and use my legs which is important to keep my muscles active, reduce numbness and I am also able to cycle further including hills and this also helps with fatigue as I tire easily. I have enjoyed being able to access local rural areas which has had a positive impact on my mental health and wellbeing, especially during this difficult time due to Covid-19 and being isolated as a clinically vulnerable person. This has meant that I have been able to get out of the house and feel safe whilst exercising. There are a lot of support groups on social media where I have met other like minded cyclists who have offered invaluable support and advice and I have met up with another lady tricycle rider as a riding companion.'
Mrs Surfleet a registered customer of the car scheme thanked HWRA for an excellent service and also to personally thank the driver, Terry for his help and assitance in providing transport to her medical appointment.
Wheels to Work North Lincolnshire Scheme - John from Grimsby
‘I joined the scheme in 2021 after hearing about it from a family member. I was in need of transport to get to and from work as I had my motorbike stolen and was not able to replace it. As a short-term arrangement I was relying on a family member to take and pick me up from work. For me the key benefit of the wheels to work scheme was that it provided me with a scooter that enabled me to get to and from work, it also gave me back independence and freedom. I would definitely recommend the scheme and I have done so to friends who are need of transport to get to work. Don’t’ underestimate the scooters as they are extremely reliable . My experience of the scheme was great, and I was glad that I was successful in receiving a scooter via the scheme’.
Fuel poverty on the increase in rural areas
24th March 2022
New data released today shows that 6.3 million households in England will wake up in fuel poverty at the beginning of April, up from 4.1 million in the same period last year.
Whilst urban areas in Wolverhampton, Leeds and Birmingham top the unwelcome table of households unable to afford to heat their homes to an adequate temperature, rural areas are also being hit hard.
In parts of rural West Norfolk, North East Lincolnshire, Herefordshire and Shropshire about a third of households will experience fuel poverty, as well as in the Chancellor’s own back yard of Richmondshire, Yorkshire.
Responding to the latest revelations, Paul Dixon, Rural Evidence Manager at Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) said, “Those on lower incomes in the countryside are some of the most vulnerable to the growing fuel crisis. Rural residents have some of the hardest to heat homes. We are particularly concerned for the one million households who depend on heating oil. Members of the ACRE Network that run community oil buying schemes report extreme volatility in the price of this commodity which is estimated to have risen threefold over the past 12 months. People are facing difficult choices between filling up their heating system with oil or putting fuel in their car to get to work. Government must recognise and address the particular vulnerabilities of people in this situation.”
The charity believes the government can and must do more to help people living in rural areas with the increasing cost of fuel. In a letter sent to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, it says government must account for specific characteristics of the fuel crisis in the countryside when developing measures to support vulnerable households.
The letter outlines a triple whammy of costs faced by rural households, namely; older and harder to heat housing stock, dependency on frequent travel to urban centres and financial pressures on various services that may compound experiences of poverty and isolation in the long run.
ACRE is a member of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition which released the updated fuel poverty statistics. Simon Francis who co-ordinates the coalition said, "Many people across rural England will wake up on 1 April in fuel poverty for the first time. Rural properties have long been the forgotten victims of rising energy costs and poorly insulated properties. It has got to the stage now, that it is only by concerted effort by the Government that we will be able to see the immediate support for struggling households combined with support for energy efficiency improvements.
People who are struggling in fuel poverty should reach out to their MPs to explain the situation they find themselves in - and contact their energy supplier and Citizens Advice for personal support."
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National charity says £3 million fund announced by government will safeguard the future of many valued rural community buildings
Timed to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, the government has committed to supporting over 100 rural community buildings with capital improvements. This follows in the footsteps of investments made in village halls as part of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1897) and King George V‘s Silver Jubilee (1935).
There are over 10,000 village halls to be found in most rural communities across England, providing residents with what is quite often the only place to meet and socialise locally. They host a wide range of activities from exercises classes, playgroups to weddings and many accommodate vital services such as post offices, doctors’ surgeries and shops.
The £400 grant (replacing what was a £200 loan) will be paid to everyone with an electricity meter by their electricity retail supplier through discounts to their bills and for pre-paid meter users as a credit to their pre-pay arrangement. This means no fundamental disadvantage to off gas grid users of heating oil, they will just have very small electricity bills to compensate for much higher oil purchases. There is, of course, an issue for the small number of people not on the electricity grid at all who will get nothing.
There will however be the question of people off the gas grid having to find very large sums to re-fill their oil tanks when the £400 will drip into their accounts by way of reduced electricity Bills, so the problem becomes mainly a cashflow one.
For those on means tested benefits there will be £650 paid in two instalments, there are as yet no details specified about when. This could help with the cashflow issue depending on when it is paid. There may be a case for ACRE and other rural organisations to call for this to be paid up front to those off gas grid in order to enable them to fill oil tanks over the summer and smooth out demand whilst enabling timing choice to get the best price.