Sunday, 27 September 2015 10:20

Fuel poverty fund warms residents

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Fuel poverty fund warms residents

RURAL local authorities are among those to benefit from a £25m fuel poverty fund.

Nationwide more than 7,000 households across England will benefit from £25m worth of government funding to keep bills low.

The £25 million Central Heating Fund competition opened in March to local authorities across England asking for plans to support local people living in homes not connected to the gas grid.

Twenty projects across England have been awarded funding; these new and existing projects will deliver services to those who need it the most.

In Northumberland, funding will be distributed between the local authorities across the region which form the Warm Up North partnership.

Some 2,000 fuel poor households in the region will have central heating installed for the first time.

Once installed, central heating can help households save up to £1,000 a year as well as keeping their homes warm more effectively.

Beneficiaries include Northumberland County Council, which was awarded £6.5m to help tackle fuel poverty.

Allan Hepple, the council's cabinet member for economic growth, said the local authority was "committed to helping those who need it most".

He added: Northumberland has numerous rural areas which aren't connected to mains gas and these settlements will be a key focus for our central heating fund."

In Cumbria, Allerdale Borough Council led a bid to secure £1.14m to be split between four districts to deliver up to 250 new heating systems.

The four Districts are working in partnership with npower, Northern Gas Networks and National Grid Gas and will begin to install heating systems this autumn.

Lesley Grisedale, Eden District Council's housing and health portfolio holder, said many residents lived in difficult to heat solid walled properties.

"We will be able to offer a number of fuel poor households central heating for the first time – this should help reduce their heating costs as well as enabling them to warm their homes more effectively."

In total, the Department for Energy and Climate Change received more than 80 proposals from more than 100 local authorities.

Proposals were assessed on how they met the funding criteria which included value for money and how the plans would offer ongoing support to cut bills.

Energy minister Lord Bourne said: "We recognise that households not connected to the gas grid can pay over the odds for their heating.

"We are taking action by backing these innovative projects that will help the people who need it most by focusing on central heating for the first time – cutting bills and keeping homes warmer.

"Projects like this show how much the government and local councils can achieve working together to secure a better future for local communities."

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