Rory Stewart MP is backing an awareness push from Consumer Focus, Citizens Advice, Age UK and the National Children’s Bureau to make free heating help from Warm Front available to the poorest households. Rory is urging people in Penrith and the Border who are worried about their energy bills to find out if they are eligible for free heating and insulation improvements from Warm Front. The call comes as new research from Consumer Focus shows that around six million households across England plan to cut back on heating their home this winter due to worries about affording their energy bills. Around 637,000 of these households are in the north-west region.
Yet although so many people are worried and are cutting back, millions of pounds worth of help is being left unclaimed under Warm Front, the Government’s scheme to help the poorest households in England to make their homes warmer and cut their energy bills.
Rory Stewart stated: “Energy bills are a big worry for many people in my constituency, and it is inevitably those who can least afford it that are the hardest hit by high prices. It is very worrying that so many people plan to cut back on their heating to make ends meet, as no-one should have to make the choice between heating and other necessities. I would urge anyone worried about their bills to contact their local Age UK or Citizens Advice Bureau to find out if they can claim free support from Warm Front to help them be warm and well this winter.”
Over 2011-12 the Warm Front scheme was under-spent by over £50 million. The number of applications for the scheme fell sharply after being over-subscribed in 2010-11. Claim rates are again low this year. Across the northwest only 2,557 applied to Warm Front between April and July 2012. This is a huge fall from the 33,905 applications in the whole of the financial year 2010-11.
As the eligibility criteria for help under the Warm Front scheme is widening this year, even if someone has been turned down before they may be able to get help this year. The heating and insulation improvements Warm Front offers could help thousands of households to stay warm and well and save up to £600 on their energy bills each year. 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