West Midlands residents who are struggling to keep their homes snug this winter are being urged to call free 0808 196 8298 to get advice on how to increase their homes’ warmth while cutting down their fuel bills.
The new hotline is run by the Warmer Homes West Midlands programme which supports people who are finding it difficult to keep up with their fuel payments or may be living in damp, cold homes that could be damaging their health.
Warmer Homes West Midlands is run by the charity Act on Energy, who are a member of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) fuel poverty and regional retrofit partnership set up by Energy Capital, established to develop solutions and secure funding to tackle the problem in the region.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The WMCA is utterly committed to tackling the region’s climate emergency, and addressing fuel poverty is a key part of our plans. We have too many old homes in the region that are poorly insulated, leading to high energy bills.
“So to help combat this we have helped set up a Freephone line for residents this winter who are looking for both a warmer home, as well as cheaper energy bills. This is part of our major retrofitting programme, where we are looking to retrofit 50,000 old, poorly insulated, homes.
“By addressing fuel poverty not only we will be helping households save money at such a difficult economic time for many, but we will also be taking a strong step towards our goal of carbon neutrality by 2041.”
The West Midlands has some of the highest rates of fuel poverty in England, second only to the North West region. As well as making homes more fuel efficient by helping people keep their homes warm, addressing fuel poverty will also help to improve people’s health by eradicating damp homes, and improve their economic situation by making energy bills more affordable.
The advice programme has been created to help more than 7,000 vulnerable households and will improve the health and wellbeing of people with pre-existing cold and damp related medical conditions through energy saving advice, energy saving measures and debt advice, and in addition will create local jobs.
A team of qualified energy advisers provide advice by telephone, through case work, home visits and community events where it is safe to do so. A team of community outreach workers will ensure that as wide a range of people as possible will be able to take advantage of the project.
Rachel Jones, chief executive, Act on Energy said: “We are thrilled to be able to deliver this exciting programme along with our energy advice partners Marches Energy Agency and provide the much needed advice and support to those who are struggling to heat their homes. With energy bills costing on average £1,200 per year and with the current covid-19 crisis we now need more than ever to look at how we use our energy”
This project forms part of a wider regional fuel poverty and retrofit programme being led by Energy Capital at the WMCA, aiming to provide jobs and support for local people as part of the region’s green recovery. The project aims to reduce fuel poverty, which is defined as when householders can’t afford to keep adequately warm at a reasonable cost, on their income. A total of 304,000 fuel poor households exist in the West Midlands and 12.6% of households suffer from fuel poverty due to higher than average fuel costs, combined with lower than average incomes
Cllr Ian Courts, environment portfolio holder for the WMCA and leader of Solihull Council said: “I urge anyone who is having difficulty keeping their home warm this winter to dial the hotline number and take the first step towards living in a warmer, healthier and greener home.
“Our goal to be carbon neutral by 2041 is a goal set for everyone in the West Midlands.”
In October a taskforce featuring some of the UK’s top property experts was launched to help the West Midlands accelerate the construction of low carbon, energy efficient homes.
The Zero Carbon Homes Taskforce was set up by the WMCA to support the region’s fight against climate change, making sure all new homes meet tough zero carbon standards from 2025 onwards.
Warmer Homes West Midlands is currently recruiting for a number of roles and anyone interested should visit https://actonenergy.org.uk/who-we-are/work-with-us/