Councils win funding to help tackle fuel poverty with Warm Homes Fund
Over 300 households across Shropshire and Herefordshire are set to benefit from affordable heating thanks to funding from the Warm Homes Fund.
The £1.8m of funding will be used to pay for the installation of affordable central heating systems for households in fuel poverty. The fund, established by National Grid, and being administered by community interest company Affordable Warmth Solutions, is designed to support councils, registered social landlords and relevant partner organisations to address some of the issues affecting fuel poor households.
Shropshire Council, in partnership with Herefordshire Council and Marches Energy Agency (MEA), were successful in securing the bid, which will help low income private occupiers, including owner occupiers and privately renting tenants, to install central heating, such as mains gas, LPG or renewable heating.
Fuel poverty remains a significant issue in both Shropshire and Herefordshire, with an estimated 17,670 households thought to suffer from fuel poverty across Shropshire and a further 11,043 households in Herefordshire.
A lack of central heating in a property can in itself cause fuel poverty and for those in poor health, old age and with limited cash, the prospect of cold-related ill health is very real, with many facing the prospect of a visit to hospital, causing further pressure on the NHS in the winter months due to cold conditions.
It is estimated that cold homes cost the NHS in England £850 million – £1.36 billion per year.* Those living in cold homes place increased pressure on already stretched health and social care services. Overall, poor housing represents a similar risk to the NHS as physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol. *(BRE – 2015, Age UK – 2012).
Many people are unaware of the risks that living in a cold home present to their health. The risk of a stroke or heart attack rises, and other conditions such as colds and flu can become more likely. Just putting on another jumper or relying on one heater isn’t enough for many people.
The project will also target those who are in poor health or at risk of ill health, those with underlying health issues, those caring for a vulnerable person, or those worried about their home being cold or damp.
Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult services, health and social housing, said:
“We know that living in cold homes can cause cumulative problems for the health and well-being of some of our most vulnerable residents. No one should have to live in such conditions.
“We believe that everyone deserves to live in a warm and safe home and we are delighted to have received this funding from the Warm Homes Fund. Our project will help address fuel poverty across Shropshire, by helping those who need it most.”
Andy Begley, Shropshire Council’s director of adult social care and housing, added:-
“We are committed to tackling fuel poverty in Shropshire and work with many partners across the county to identify and help those who are most vulnerable and living in cold homes.
“Receiving this additional funding is fantastic news. We want as many households as possible to benefit from our project and hope residents take up the opportunity to get their homes made warmer and safer.”
To qualify for support through the project, householders will need to be in a privately- owned or rented property without a recognised central heating system, typically be low income and either be in receipt of certain qualifying benefits and/or vulnerable.
If you feel that you may qualify then please contact our friendly advisors at Keep Shropshire Warm on 0800 112 3743 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Shropshire Warm is a partnership between Shropshire Council and Marches Energy Agency. The scheme provides free and impartial energy advice to local residents through an advice line, home visits and community events, as well as funding for energy efficiency measures. The service can also offer advice on energy tariffs and discounts, suppliers, and how to better use energy at home.
Warm Homes Fund
National Grid, and community interest company Affordable Warmth Solution (AWS), have established a £150m Warm Homes Fund (WHF) designed to support councils, registered social landlords and other organisations working in partnership with them, to address some of the issues affecting fuel poor households.
In 2014 the Government introduced a statutory target to ensure fuel poor homes in England achieve a minimum energy efficiency rating of Band C by 31 December 2030, with targets in Scotland and Wales also set by the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly respectively. NEA’s Annual Fuel Poverty Monitor reports that without additional investment and ambition these targets may not be realised.
The WHF is primarily designed to address some of these issues by incentivising the installation of affordable heating solutions in fuel poor households who do not use mains gas as their primary heating fuel. It is envisaged that the fund will be used to supplement local strategic plans and other funds available.