'Life-saving' support on offer for vulnerable Preston residents struggling to heat their homes

Preston residents who are most at risk of harm from having cold homes - and who also have a low income - could be in line for help to improve their living conditions this winter.
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Preston City Council is due to receive a £119,000 grant to fund energy efficiency upgrades and repairs to properties whose occupiers are particularly vulnerable to plunging temperatures - but who are not in a position to rectify the problems that are causing their homes to be draughty and damp.

It is hoped that the intervention could reduce hospital admissions and even prevent premature deaths.

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Almost 12 percent of Preston households are in fuel povertyAlmost 12 percent of Preston households are in fuel poverty
Almost 12 percent of Preston households are in fuel poverty
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Loft and cavity wall insulation, mould treatment, glazing improvements and the servicing or replacement of heating systems are just some examples of the work that could be funded under the "affordable warmth" scheme.

In order to be eligible for support, a household must contain someone with at least one of more than a dozen defined vulnerabilities - including a diagnosed cardiovascular or respiratory condition, a suppressed immune system or a terminal illness.

The over-65s, households with children up to the age of five, pregnant women and people who have been hospitalised by a fall are also covered.

However, all of the eligible groups must also be receiving means-tested benefits or have a total gross household income of less than £31,000.

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The maximum grant that can be issued per property is £8,000 and the expectation is that the dwellings will be owner-occupied, but other tenures may be considered for help on a case-by-case basis.

Under a similar initiative last year, 73 households in the city were helped - none of which were open to any other form of support for the purpose of improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

The cash will come from Lancashire County Council - subject to the authority’s final approval - which is allocating funding to all district councils on the basis of levels of fuel poverty in their areas.

As of April this year, 11.9 percent of Preston households were classed as fuel poor - defined by the government as people living in properties with an energy efficiency rating of band D or below and who, once they have spent the amount needed to heat their home, are left with a remaining income that pushes them below the official poverty line.

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Any funded work will be carried out by Cosy Homes in Lancashire (CHiL), which a report to city council cabinet members said was “an experienced and reputable partner”.

“They are able to mobilise quickly and can adhere to all the monitoring and governance arrangements required,” the document added.

Cllr Jennifer Mein, the town hall’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing said that last year’s initiative - also delivered by Cosy Homes - had “shown this is a successful model in spending and allocating funding for the benefit of our poorer households”.

“In the current economic climate, it’s satisfying to know that even more Preston households on low incomes or with chronic health conditions will benefit from having energy efficiency measures in place. Not only does this tackle fuel poverty, but it also helps reduce carbon emissions.

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“We would encourage all Preston residents to check the CHiL website if they are eligible for funding for these energy efficiency measures, which can make a real difference to low income households.”

AM I ELIGIBLE AND HOW DO I APPLY?

Households will be eligible for funding if a resident has at least one of the following vulnerabilities AND a low income, defined as follows:

Vulnerabilities

***people with diagnosed cardiovascular conditions

***people with diagnosed respiratory conditions (in particular, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and childhood asthma)

***people with diagnosed mental health conditions

***people with diagnosed disabilities

***older people (aged 65 and above)

***households with young children (up to the age of five)

***pregnant women

***people who are terminally ill

***people with suppressed immune systems (as a result, for example, from cancer treatment or HIV)

***people who have attended hospital due to a fall

***people who move in and out of homelessness

***people with addictions

***recent immigrants and refugees.

Low income

***someone being in receipt of means tested benefits

***a total gross household income not in excess of £31,000

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In exceptional circumstances support may be offered to people that do not have one of the listed vulnerabilities, but who do have a significant low income and energy efficiency issues. Such cases will be determined on a case by case basis.

Source: Preston City Council