Some participants had however made new contacts and had reinforced existing relationships as a result of the Affordable Warmth workshops. One participant felt that if their strategy were to progress then this type of network needed to be strengthened. Some authorities are formalising the network of organisations who worked together on the Affordable Warmth Strategy. The following are examples of the different ways this has happened.
Luton has also launched a referral network to provide appropriate services to vulnerable members of the community. In Barking and Dagenham the contact group is expanding as more people wish to be involved in the process. The Steering Group has become oversubscribed. Derbyshire Dales plans to produce a Signpost pack to assist front line staff from a range of organisations to refer vulnerable groups to specialist services. New links are also occurring as a result of the strategy. For example Wolverhampton Borough Council has Property conveyancing solicitors carried out more work with ethnic minority groups as a result of contacts made during the strategy. development process, and has also been contacted by other authorities who are interested in replicating the process. Participants from other organisations have also listed some of the contacts and benefits from their involvement with the Affordable Warmth Strategy.
When asked about any areas left out of the strategies the most frequently quoted areas were the lack of collaboration with health services and to a lesser degree Social Services. Private landlords have also been identified as a future group to be invited to participate in strategy development. Two of the authorities would recommend that others considering embarking on an Affordable Warmth Strategy should first contact an authority with experience of setting up and progressing such a strategy. They should also consider the resources and commitment needed and not underestimate the importance of other parties and the expertise they can bring to the process.
Manchester City Council and Luton Borough Council have attracted funding for energy and affordable warmth initiatives. Having a strategy in place, particularly a formal document, demonstrates to potential funding bodies that a serious programme of work is being undertaken by the authority in partnership with other agencies. One lead officer pointed out that there may be a time delay between beginning to achieve progress on the strategy.