Expert article
Edit 18 March 2022
by Marta García París, UIA expert

The Healthy Households’ Office service (OHS) in Getafe, ready to face the high energy prices

OHS
Energy prices are at record highs and remain volatile in Europe. Situations of energy poverty are exacerbating and families in Europe are struggling to pay their energy bills. Energy Poverty Intelligent Unit (EPIU) project in Getafe (Spain), is consolidating the OHS-Healthy Households’ Municipal Office Service, a public service that is gaining even more relevance considering the context of the energy market.

In Spain, people suffering a situation of vulnerability can be protected from the market volatility. For example, disconnection protection is available and a social bonus reduces electricity bills up to 70% if qualifying for certain criteria. However, only 1,1 million out of 4,5 million people affected by a situation of energy poverty, is benefiting from the social bonus. This means that the information is not reaching the target which is worrying. The OHS-Healthy Households’ Municipal Office Service overcomes this challenge, as one of its main activities is to offer advice on energy bills.

OHS- Healthy Households’ Municipal Office Service 

The OHS-Healthy Households’ Municipal Office is offering energy advice to Margarita’s and La Alhóndiga-Fátima neighbours. From energy bills to renovation and renewable energies, the office aims to be the energy referee for the citizen in Getafe.

The service is available from Monday to Friday at different points. The main point of entrance is the central office but the service counts on two satellites at the community centers in Margarita’s and La Alhóndiga-Fátima neighborhoods to reach more people.

A team of five people makes the service tangible providing different supports. The essential task is to provide advise to those reaching the office. At this point, the service is universal, which means that provides advice to all household’s energy users and not only to those people in a situation of vulnerability. Apart from that, the team works at community level, participating on events, fairs etc. to promote the service. As part of their tasks, they intensively work with other local services in Getafe to agree on protocols to refer users facing a situation of vulnerability.

First impressions

It is soon to evaluate the impact of the service in Getafe. However, since June 2021 while EPIU started to offer advice to Getafe’s neighbours, more and more citizens are benefiting for the service. OHS is duplicating the expected level of entries offering around 20 advices per week.

Most part of the requests are related to energy bills and due to the situation of the electricity and gas market, the team is trying to offer the best advice considering the uncertainty of the moment.

Talking about the profile, during these first weeks, there has been a major influx of elderly reaching the service. This is normal considering that opening hours are more accessible to those with time and availability. Furthermore, it is interesting to provide advice to those considered more fragile and, elderly is one these groups.

Challenges

A local public service that has just been launched such as OHS in Getafe has to face different challenges at distinct levels. In the case of OHS, and, at the point of writing this article, the following challenges have been identified:

  • At operative level, the team and the service needs to be consolidated. Furthermore, the connection with the rest of Getafe’s community needs to be deeper stablished. And last, but not least, EPIU must work hard to ensure the sustainability of the office after the end of the project.
  • At service level, other challenges appear. On one side, the number of users must increase to reach as many neighbours as possible. On the other side, a special focus must be taken on the advice provided to those affected by a situation of energy poverty, including hidden energy poverty. What has been observed up to date, is that vulnerability is identified mostly in those users asking for energy bill advice and not in those who ask about renovation or renewable energies guidance. This fact makes even more evident the barriers that vulnerable consumers are facing and sets the course on where OHS must deploy its potential.

OHS has an enormous potential and is, for sure, going to serve its citizens. If you want to know more about the public service or about the project, bellow you can find some links.

More on EPIU

The project will be running until 2023 so stay tuned to know how it is progressing on EPIU’s website https://hogaressaludables.getafe.es/en/

Or social media channels:

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaE9esoYPZng6jW3bXk7yng?

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/epiugetafe/

Twitter https://twitter.com/epiugetafe

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