Portsmouth City Council will lead a consortium of nine local authorities* for the delivery of first time central heating systems in vulnerable households.
The authority and its partner AgilityEco have been successful in attracting £4.65m from the Warm Homes Fund (administered by Affordable Warmth Solutions), with a further £2.8 million to be brought to the project from other energy efficiency funding streams bringing the total amount to £7.4 million.
The money is to be allocated over three years, with the first installations for the project beginning in August. The scheme intends to deliver 1,500 free central heating installations during this time.
Typical eligibility criteria include those on low incomes, those in receipt of means-tested benefits, those with long-term health issues or those in vulnerable situations.
Where it's recognised that a household is having central heating for the first time, changing for example from systems such as panel heating or storage heaters, other secondary energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation can also be installed for them.
Those receiving their first central heating system will also receive a free connection to the gas grid, where this is required. The total value of a gas connection and central heating system typically equates to £6,000.
Around 10% of the funding can be used in social housing, but the vast majority is to be used in the private sector where fuel poverty is most prevalent; both for homeowners and private rental.
The website Warmerhomes.org.uk gives further information regarding the scheme, eligibility criteria and how to apply.
Information can also be received by calling 0800 038 5737 or emailing email@example.com
AgilityEco's Chief Executive Officer Gearóid Lane said:
“We’re delighted to have helped Portsmouth City Council and its consortium partners to secure this valuable grant funding, enabling hundreds of people in Portsmouth to replace their expensive, inefficient heating systems with new and efficient gas central heating. We’re looking forward to working with the councils to deliver this valuable help and support to those that need it most. We urge residents without gas central heating to visit the website or call the free helpline number and get their applications in before the coming winter.”
Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Darren Sanders said:
"This funding is excellent news for the residents of Portsmouth and will ensure that many of the most vulnerable in our city don't have to suffer when winter arrives. Fuel poverty is a growing problem in our city. This funding means we can take proactive action to help those who need it the most, I couldn't be prouder that Portsmouth is leading the consortium on this project.
*The consortium partners are:
Peterborough City Council
Portsmouth City Council
Gosport Borough Council
Bournemouth Borough Council
Poole Borough Council
Rutland County Council
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Notes for Editors
The scheme is aimed at vulnerable householders and considers each situation on a case-by-case basis. Typical eligibility criteria include those on low incomes, receipt of means-tested benefits, those with a long-term health issue or those in a vulnerable situation.
Portsmouth has an elevated rate of fuel poverty compared to the national average, with around 14.5% of all households in the city being considered fuel poor. Fuel poverty and the associated inability to properly heat homes leads to a number of effects including excess winter death, poor childhood attainment, the inability to play an active part in the economy and the exacerbation of chronic illness brought about by cold and poor indoor air quality.
Energy price rises have compounded the issue and the rate of households in fuel poverty has increased in recent years.
An indicator of fuel poverty is often a property without main gas heating. This is because a unit of electricity, even when an Economy 7 tariff, is often twice the cost gas. If the property does not have night storage heaters, then it is almost impossible to heat in a way that is not prohibitively expensive for low-income households.
The Energy Services Team has implemented various externally-funded programmes to help fuel poor households; including visiting around 600 homes over the past 12 months under the Local Energy Advice Partnership (LEAP) and fitting 20 boilers where no heating was available in vulnerable homes. All of this work is free to both consumer and Council.
The LEAP service will be used to enable the delivery of the Warm Homes Fund measures detailed below.
It is envisaged that around £1,000,000 will be spent on social landlord, private rented and owner occupier properties in Portsmouth; however this figure may be higher as there is a strong demand for new heating systems across the area and Portsmouth City Council will take referrals from its own Housing Revenue Account (HRA) stock.