Multi million pound service to reduce fuel poverty

Thousands of people across Cornwall are to be lifted out of fuel poverty and live in warmer homes following an £8 million funding investment over the next year.

Around 36,000 homes in Cornwall are in fuel poverty, with Cornwall in the top 10 of fuel poor areas in England.

The Winter Well-being Partnership, led by Cornwall Council and including 30 partners, has secured over £3.5 million from National Grid’s Warm Homes Fund to work with thousands of people to stay warmer for less and be lifted out of fuel poverty.

The new fund, ‘Warm and Well Cornwall’, targets residents who are in poor health or at risk of ill health, or with underlying health issues, or caring for a vulnerable person or worried about their home being cold or damp.

Warm and Well Cornwall will help 220 private homes, including owners, landlords or tenants and up to 800 social housing homes with first time central heating, such as renewable heating, mains gas, oil, or LPG, with many more to follow in future years.

Social housing partners Ocean, Coastline, Cornwall Housing, Guinness and DCH are investing around £2.5 million to improve heating for their tenants with renewable heating and gas central heating.

Funding has also been secured from SSE Energy Solutions, Cornwall Council’s Energy Efficiency partner. SSE has ring-fenced Energy Company Obligation (ECO) eligible measures targeted at fuel poor and vulnerable households in Cornwall and is a key partner to delivering Warm and Well Cornwall.

By January 2019 the programme is expected to have helped over 1,000 homes out of fuel poverty, keeping people warm and well.

Julian German, Cornwall Council deputy leader, said: “Cornwall Council’s 2017 resident survey found that 15 per cent of people said finding the money to pay for utility bills was a very big or fairly big problem. Fuel poverty is a significant issue for many people in Cornwall - this programme will go a long way to helping these households stay warm and well.

“Part of this funding is also because of our devolution work. New ways of delivering insulation improvements to Cornish homes agreed with the Government means we have more control over the decisions on which homes can receive this support. This will make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of people currently living in cold and damp homes.”

Caroline Court, interim director of Well-being and Public Health, said: “There is a longstanding body of evidence which shows the link between cold homes and poor health. People living in a cold home are at higher risk of lung conditions, heart attack, stroke and mental health problems. A warm home means a healthier home, and that can change lives.”

Jeremy Nesbitt, managing director for Affordable Warmth Solutions who administered the fund on behalf of National Grid, said: “We are excited about the potential of this investment from National Grid and we’re indebted for the support of our communications partner, National Energy Action (NEA) in reaching our target audiences.

“Solving the issues associated with Fuel Poverty continues to challenge many of our stakeholders and the feedback we’ve already received provides evidence of how the Warm Homes Fund will make a positive difference to thousands of homes throughout the country. We are delighted to support the Warm and Well Programme and make a difference to the residents of Cornwall.”

Sarah Newton, MP for Falmouth and Truro, said: “I am delighted to have helped secure this new funding to tackle a long standing problem in Cornwall. Having been a part of the Winter Wellness partnership for some time, I have seen first-hand how effective this partnership of public sector organisations, businesses, charities and communities groups is in delivering positive change for people living on low incomes in Cornwall. Living in a warm home is a matter of social justice and this new programme and investment will help more local people.”

Tony Butler, UK sales manager for SSE Energy Solutions, said: “As their Energy Efficiency Partner, SSE Energy Solutions is proud to support Cornwall Council’s Winter Wellbeing Partnership for the third year running. This exceptional group of likeminded entities, comprising 30 partners in total, all strive towards the same common goal to eliminate fuel poverty in Cornwall. Whilst other regions share similar objectives, challenges and financial constraints to those of Cornwall, few benefit from such a well-connected group of champions, who, thanks to their input and the council’s coordination, make this partnership a truly bespoke and innovative arrangement.”

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