The city’s most vulnerable households will not be required to pay sewage costs and will be entitled to the technical report detailing electrical installations (BRIE) free of charge. Both measures aim to provide dignity for families which are worst off, going beyond the legal framework by counting sewage and waste treatment as basic services.
The first of the new measures presented to combat energy poverty makes families at risk of residential exclusion exempt from paying sewage costs, which are included on the water bill. The Councillor for Water and Energy, Eloi Badia, explained that the measure is not just a straightforward discount, confirming that “debts will also be paid”. The measure also makes Barcelona the first city in Catalonia to include sewage and waste as services covered by Act 24/2015, which tackles the housing emergency and energy poverty and relates to water, electricity and gas. “We understand domestic utility supplies as integrated services which are guaranteed by the right to housing”, noted Badia.
The other measure relates to the technical report detailing electrical installations (BRIE), a document which accredits the safety of installations and which is obligatory for contracting the supply of electricity. Whenever a household at risk of residential exclusion needs the document, the Barcelona Energy Agency will contract an authorised technician from the guild of installers to issue it at no cost to the family. The BRIE is valid for 25 years and must be valid when new supply contracts are requested, a common occurrence following the cutting off of supplies or the termination of contracts.
Summer campaign at energy advice points
Energy poverty is not just a winter problem. Because of this a summer campaign has been started to remind people that six of the city’s energy advice points are open through the summer. The two main aspects being promoted in the summer are access to drinking water and the importance of maintaining appropriate temperatures in the home. “We’re using the summer to increase our presence in the streets, run campaigns and get out and about”, explained the Deputy Mayor for Social Rights, Laia Ortiz. The campaign will see 75,000 information leaflets distributed at municipal facilities and 250 posters.
Barcelona’s ten energy advice points started operating at the end of January. Since then they have provided support for 4,626 homes. Including support offered via social services, the energy advice points have provided services to 7,476 homes. In 658 cases, direct urgent action was needed in the home. Some 75% of people attended to at the advice points were not social services users.