6m will go without heating this winter
As part of the Government’s Warm Front scheme, installations of insulation and heating measures for people on certain disability or income-related benefits are free.
The call from Consumer Focus, Citizens Advice, Age UK and National Children’s Bureau, after research from Consumer Focus shows that four out ten households are worried about affording their energy bills this coming winter.
Around 6m households are planning to cut back on heating their home this winter due to price worries.
Rachel Monaghan, senior development officer at the National Children’s Bureau, said: ‘Some families with children in the UK will have to make the choice whether to heat or eat this winter.
“We know many families are struggling to cope with rising fuel bills and are having to cut back on other essentials like food.
“We also know that growing up in a cold and damp home can have a real effect on children’s health, learning and enjoyment of life.”
The report suggest that that despite the high number of households cutting back on heating their homes, millions of pounds worth of help is being left unclaimed under Warm Front.
Over 2011-12 the Warm Front scheme was under-spent by over £50m. The number of applications for the scheme fell sharply after being over-subscribed in 2010-11.
The report shows that claim rates are again low this year.
The Government is also introducing changes that will make more people and families with children, who are living on low incomes, eligible for the scheme.
As the eligibility criteria for help under the Warm Front scheme is widening, those who may have been turned down before could now be eligible for help.
Mervyn Kohler, special adviser for Age UK, said: “Warm Front is being phased out. When this year’s budget is exhausted, that’s it. But so far, applications are really low, and the scheme may gift an under-spend back to the Treasury.
“A cold home is a serious health hazard, and older households, who are particularly at risk, can act now, knowing that by Christmas they will be warmer and better prepared for the dangers and worries of a cold winter.”
Warm Front offers measures worth up to £3,500 (£6,000 if you need oil central heating).
These measures are free to most people who receive help from the scheme and can make a big difference to their health and financial well-being, in particular in affording other bills and saving for emergencies.
People can find out if they can get free help from Warm Front by calling 0800 316 2805 or by visiting their local Citizens Advice Bureau or Age UK.
Further information and an online application form are also available on www.direct.gov.uk
It currently takes on average just eight weeks to install heating or insulation from the day you apply. So if people apply now their home could be warmer at a lower cost, by Christmas.