TAMWORTH residents on a limited income could benefit from new funding for broken gas boilers, as part of the emergency central heating offer scheme.
Tamworth Borough Council is one of the few local authorities nationally to be able to access the Emergency Central Heating Offer (ECHO), available through the council’s Home Energy Advice Tamworth (HEAT) service.
A broken boiler during the winter months can be a chilly and stressful experience for most people. For those in poor health, elderly, or with limited incomes, the prospect of cold-related ill health is very real and many worry about ending up in hospital. With widespread reports of pressures on the NHS in the winter months due to cold conditions, HEAT are keen to do all they can to help householders stay warm in their homes.
A Belgrave resident phoned HEAT after their insurance company refused to repair the boiler because it had broken down five times since September. The pensioner, who suffers with paralysis, had free boiler replacement through the scheme. HEAT advisors also applied for the Warm Homes Discount on behalf of the resident, saving £140, checked they were on a suitable tariff and signed up them up to the Priority Services Register. Thanks to HEAT, this resident can face the winter in a warm home.
The HEAT scheme is run by Tamworth Borough Council in partnership with Marches Energy Agency and Beat the Cold. It offers free help and advice about staying warm.
Davina Allen, Project Manager for HEAT, said: “HEAT advisors can discuss qualifying criteria and make applications on behalf of residents over the phone, should they qualify.
“HEAT is particularly keen to hear from households where certain health conditions call for extra heat at home. Such households can also be signed up for the Priority Services Register, a scheme run by Western Power Distribution offering extra help during power cuts.
“As well as funding for boiler replacements, the service can offer advice on insulation, energy tariffs and discounts.
“We often take calls from people concerned about neighbours or friends who are struggling either with a crisis like a broken boiler, or who face daily decisions about whether to heat or eat.
“Many people struggle on with broken or intermittent systems, unaware that they could be eligible for help. With the new Emergency Central Heating Offer and home visit support available, we hope to be in a position to help”.
HEAT can be contacted on Freephone 0800 0432 815 or on firstname.lastname@example.org Advice is free and impartial to all residents. Funding is subject to eligibility criteria, and callers will need to provide personal information such as their household income or the benefits they receive, as part of the assessment.
Cllr Stephen Doyle, Cabinet member for Communities & Partnerships, said: “Many people are unaware of the risks that living in a cold home present to their health. The risk of a stroke or heart attack increases, along with the occurrence of other conditions such as colds and flu. Just putting on another jumper isn’t enough for many people.
“The health and wellbeing of our residents is one of our top priorities and fuel poverty has a serious effect on this.
“HEAT can provide help to more households than ever before in Tamworth so don’t leave it too late to call the free HEAT number on 0800 043 2815.”
More information on tackling fuel poverty is available from the National Energy Action website at www.nea.org.uk/advice/