Millions of pounds worth of government funding, which can help low income households is being left unclaimed. The government Warm Front Scheme covers some or all of the costs of home insulation and central heating for households that have a low income. Last year the government revealed that over £50million went unclaimed last year.
Consumers groups such as Consumer Focus, Citizens Advice, Age UK and The National Children’s Bureau have highlighted the lack of take up as nearly 4 in 10 households are worrying about their fuel bills this winter. A survey by Consumer focus showed that roughly 6 million households are planning to cut back on their fuel usage in a bid to try to stem the rise in costs.
The consumer groups have joined together in their efforts to tell people that if they are struggling financially, to contact Warm Front to see if they are eligible for help.
Jonathan Stearn, programme director at Consumer Focus said: ‘A cold home can damage your health, so it’s very worrying that high energy prices are leading so many people to cut back on their heating.
‘We want to make sure that as many people as possible are helped to cut their bills and stay warm and well through the Warm Front scheme this year. We would urge anyone struggling with their bills to find out if they can claim free help.
After the scheme has run this year it could come to an end, seeing thousands of families missing out on the chance to update their home to make it more energy efficient. The Citizens Advice Bureau has said that it can help people with their Warm Front applications.
Age UK spokesman Mervyn Kohler 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 underspend back to the Treasury.’
Warm front upgrades to your home could shave off as much as £600 per year on energy costs. To qualify people must either rent or own their own home and be in receipt of certain benefits such as income support, working tax credits and pension credits.
Rachel Monaghan, senior development officer of health and wellbeing 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 Warm Front scheme can help cut bills and keep families warm and healthy, so we urge anyone worried about their fuel bills to find out as soon as they can if they are eligible to receive support.’