4,000 of Portsmouth's most vulnerable households will get help and advice to cut their fuel bills through cash secured by Portsmouth City Council.
The £170,000 grant comes from the charity the Environment Centre as part of its Energy Redress Scheme. This aims to get people out of fuel poverty.
This is the latest in £7.4m of grants awarded to the Council over the last two years to tackle fuel poverty and provide energy efficiency initiatives to residents. Around 12.1 per cent of Portsmouth households cannot afford to keep their homes adequately warm, compared with the national average rate of 10.9 per cent.
The grant will allow the council to reach out to vulnerable and disadvantaged communities to reduce their risk of fuel poverty and support them to stay warm and well in their homes.
It will also enable fuel-poor households to receive an in-depth and extended home-visit service, covering free fuel top ups to a dedicated energy advice phone line. This builds on the existing provision that offers a range of measures, including:
- install free simple energy saving measures such as LED light bulbs and draught-proofing
- check if residents are on the best energy tariff
- arrange a free money advice consultation
- residents find funding for further energy-saving home improvements.
Councillor Darren Sanders, the Council's Cabinet Member for Housing said:
"Too many people in our city are forced to choose between heating and eating. That is wrong, which is why it is great that the Council is - yet again - tackling the problem.
"Too often, people do not know where to turn or what to do when it comes to cutting fuel bills. This funding from the Environment Centre helps deal with this vital gap.
"I am keen to make sure the Council and other agencies in the city work together to enable all homes in the city to be as energy efficient as possible. That is why I am looking forward to seeing the city's first strategy to do just that."
The additional funding comes shortly after the council launched its 'energy and water at home strategy' consultation, which focuses heavily on fuel poverty mitigation.
The council is currently working towards a 1st April launch when the new schemes will be operational. Residents will be referred into the additional support services after having an initial visit if deemed eligible.
Adam Goulden, Chief Executive of the Environment Centre said:
"We are delighted to have been awarded funding through the Redress Scheme and are looking forward to supporting Portsmouth City Council and the Fuel Poverty Action group as they work to tackle this hugely important issue.
We welcome the opportunity to be able to provide more intensive support to a greater number of vulnerable residents and help them stay warm and well in the homes."
Residents can find energy efficiency advice and access a number of energy and money saving initiatives at www.switchedonportsmouth.co.uk.