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This winter has been a little bit more bearable for thousands of Cumbrian households thanks to the advice, practical support and financial assistance made possible by the Cumbrian Warm Homes Partnership. The partnership, made up of Cumbria County Council and a host of other local authorities, charities and organisations, was set up in October 2011. As well as offering helpful advice to thousands through campaigns such as “Keeping the brrrr out of Cumbria”, they have also helped hundreds of households with practical help and financial assistance though a range of projects and support mechanisms.
Over 3,000 local households have received a home energy health check via the Cumbria Affordable Warmth Project. The survey is free and for many households the cost of work, such as loft and cavity wall insulation, is also free. As a result of the project, over 1,500 energy efficiency measures have been installed in homes across the county.
Although winter is now over, Tom Barlow from the Cumbria Affordable Warmth Project is keen to remind people that they can still make an application to this project. He said:
“We haven’t had a particularly harsh winter this year and so people may not have worried so much about heating bills. However, the assistance that we can offer will help keep homes warmer for many years to come.
“Cumbrians have a strong sense of pride, but this pride is stopping lots of homes from taking what is rightfully theirs and getting their homes insulated. Every home in Cumbria contributes to the cost of these schemes through their energy bills, but it’s those who need it the most who are the least likely to take advantage of free insulation.
“In October this year the Government will introduce the new Green Deal, and from that point onwards homes will pay around £450 for loft insulation and £600 for cavity wall insulation. These costs may be added directly onto the individual household electric bill so now really is the time to take advantage of these free or discounted measures.”
If you are over 60, or have a child under the age of five who permanently resides in your household then, from April onwards, you can also get free insulation through the Cumbria Warm Homes Plus offer, along with anyone who lives in private rented accommodation, through the Warmer Rented Homes scheme.
Insulation not only keeps homes warmer it helps to reduce the cost of the energy bill in the home, just one phone call to 0800 328 8419 will give local residents access to all of these services.
Two projects were also set up to provide practical help and financial support specifically for vulnerable people such as the elderly, families with young children, and people with disabilities or poor health. These were made possible by the partnership’s successful bid to the Government’s Warm Homes Healthy People Fund.
The winter warmth fund, managed by the Cumbria Community Foundation, has issued 660 cash grants totalling £122,000 and this is expected to rise to £144,000 by the end of April.
The project has also issued £92,000 in grants to organisations targeting winter warmth including areas such as a breakfast club for homeless people and family advice centres.
Hot spots, managed by Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency, was set up specifically to provide fast financial help to repair heating systems and boilers. To date they have had 135 applications for assistance which have led to 51 services of heating systems and 30 boiler repairs with a further 45 repairs in the pipeline. The value of the work undertaken to date is almost £71,500.
Hot spot funding is available up until June 30 so again people are being encouraged to apply and prepare their heating systems for next winter.
Cllr James Airey, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said:
“It’s wonderful to hear that we’ve been able to help so many Cumbrian households keep warm this winter. This is especially important with regard to the more vulnerable members of the community who may need this support more than others. This is a fine example of what can be achieved when organisations work together.
“As has been proven recently, our weather continues to surprise us and, of course, prevention is better than cure, so I would urge our residents do take advantage of these offers when they are available.”
For more information call 0800 328 8419.