Support on hand for those struggling with winter energy costs
People who are struggling to heat their homes are being encouraged to seek advice and support to help with their winter energy costs.
The callout marks national Fuel Poverty Awareness Day today. a campaign led by charity National Energy Action (NEA) that aims to highlight the issues around fuel poverty and to raise awareness about the support available to those who are struggling to stay warm at home.
The council, along with its partners, offer a range of support and advice to help those in fuel poverty or facing other financial worries. These include:
- Keep Shropshire Warm – a partnership between the council and Shrewsbury- based charity Marches Energy Agency (MEA), that offers free and impartial energy advice to anyone in need in Shropshire. Local advisers can support residents with a range of energy concerns, from accessing grant funding to switching supplier or resolving fuel debt issues. Residents who require help and support can contact the Keep Shropshire Warm team for free on 0800 112 3743 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Household Support Fund – If you are one of the 3,600 households who have received a letter from the council, advising that you are eligible for a one-off payment of £115 to help with essential costs this winter, don’t delay. Complete the form as soon as possible so you don’t miss out. Those eligible will be in receipt of Universal Credit (at a level that is below the threshold for free school meals or free prescriptions) and council tax support. To receive this support residents will need to complete a short online application form to verify their identity and provide their bank details for payment. Each letter contains a unique identifier which needs to be provided to verify their application. The form can be accessed at shropshire.gov.uk/hhsupportfund.
- Finance and welfare support this winter– The council now has a range of support and funding available to help the most vulnerable of Shropshire’s households to manage over the winter months. This includes financial help for those eligible and who have been affected by the pandemic, and who may be struggling to pay for food or other essential outgoings. Please note this is limited funding and will only be offered for a limited time until it is spent. To find out more call 0345 678 9078.
Every winter millions of people across the UK struggle to stay warm and healthy at home. In Shropshire alone there is around 16,000 households suffering from fuel poverty. Rising energy costs, low incomes and inefficient homes leave them unable to afford even basic household essentials like, food and heating. Living in a cold home can have a range of impacts on physical and mental health, and treating cold-related illness is estimated to cost the NHS in England and Wales over £2bn a year.
This year the fuel poverty situation will be even more difficult. The pandemic continues to squeeze household finances further, and the recent energy price increases will be being felt just as weather turns colder. Some of the health conditions caused or worsened by cold homes, such as asthma and COPD, also place people at greater risk from the virus.
Oliver Rothwell, Shropshire Council’s Warm Homes Fund project officer, said:-
“Winter can be a time of worry for individuals and families who are struggling to find money to pay essential bills and other outgoings. With changes to Government benefits and increases in food and fuel costs, many of Shropshire’s residents could well be facing financial difficulty this winter. This can be particularly worrying if you’ve never found yourself in this position before.
“Everybody deserves to live in a warm and safe home. With many of us facing new challenges this winter, many people are spending additional time at home and may need support with how to stay warm and safe; while those who are ill or self-isolating may also have concerns about practical challenges in paying for their energy.
“Fuel Poverty Awareness Day provides a great opportunity to find out more and access the support available across Shropshire.”
Claire Wooley, Marches Area Lead at Marches Energy Agency (MEA), added:
“Already we’re seeing an increased demand for our support in the area. Many households struggle with fuel poverty every year in Shropshire, but with the extra pressure put on by the pandemic and energy price increases, more residents are concerned about staying warm this winter.
“We’re here to support those who are struggling to heat their homes or afford their energy bills, as well as householders looking to improve the energy efficiency of their home. We accept referrals from family and friends, so if you or someone you know is worried about fuel bills, please do get in touch.”
There are a number of grants available for residents to improve their heating and insulation at home, helping them reduce energy costs and stay warmer at home. More information and an online application from can be found at www.shropshire.gov.uk/keep-shropshire-warm
Finance and welfare support this winter
To find out more about what other finance and welfare support is available during the winter months call our Welfare Support Team on 0345 678 9078 or visit https://shropshire.gov.uk/five-ways-to-winter-wellness/welfare-and-wellbeing/
You can find out more about Fuel Poverty Awareness Day at https://www.nea.org.uk/nea-campaigns/fpad/?parent=nea-campaigns