PRESS RELEASE 2/8/2016: Families urged to come forward for help with winter bills

ONE-OFF GRANTS are available to families and individuals on low incomes in the run-up to winter.

More than 20 energy companies offer the Warm Home Discount scheme, which gives eligible customers a one-off grant towards their electricity bill or prepayment meter during the winter.

Schemes are set to open from around August time, and the payment is expected to remain the same as previous years at £140.

Families on low incomes or welfare are encouraged to get ahead of the queue and register their interest now with the support of the Warm and Well in North Yorkshire project, which seeks to raise awareness of cold homes.

Although criteria for the grant varies according to the energy supplier, generally customers qualify automatically if they are in receipt of the Guarantee element of Pension Credit.

Households might also be eligible for the payment if they receive certain means-tested benefits or have an annual income of less than £16,000 and there is a child under-5, someone with a disability, or someone elderly living at the property. In this case residents have to apply for the £140.

Kate Urwin, the Yorkshire Energy Doctor, who is working with Warm and Well said:

“Customers can either apply online via their electricity supplier or call them up. It is a good idea to get in quickly as some schemes are first come first served and close when they have reached their maximum number of applicants.

“The £140 payment can go a long way to easing financial pressure on families during the winter, and is set up in such a way that it reaches those who need it the most.”

For support with the Warm Home Discount application as well as with wider energy matters such as debt or switching, families are also able to contact Kate directly. She can be reached on 07738 818391 or 01757 249100.

Families can also talk to Warm and Well in North Yorkshire for a wider variety of support around being cold at home. Please visit www.first4contact.org or call 01904 704177.

  
 

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Editor’s Notes

Photos attached to email. Caption: Kate Urwin, the Yorkshire Energy Doctor (2x photos attached.)

Media contact: Candice Dowson, Project Manager, Rural Action Yorkshire tel. 0845 313 0270.

Warm and Well in North Yorkshire

Warm & Well in North Yorkshire (WWNY) is a winter health and fuel poverty project led by Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY), and delivered by over 30 partners covering all 7 districts in the county. It is funded by British Gas Energy Trust’s Healthy Homes fund.

The project will run from October 2015 to December 2016, focussing on the colder months and the important run-up to winter.

The extent of fuel poverty and cold homes are major contributors to poor winter health. Fuel poverty is caused by three main factors: inefficient homes, high energy costs and low incomes. In North Yorkshire, fuel poverty stands at 10% - 26,229 households. Fuel poverty is more likely to occur in rural areas like North Yorkshire because housing tends to be older and harder to treat, homes are off the mains gas network, meaning higher costs for heating fuels, and there is generally a low take up of energy advice and grants.

The proposal is innovative in bringing together a comprehensive partnership including VCS organisations, local authorities, CCGs, and the Gas Distribution Network Operator, Northern Gas Networks. The project contains a mix of tried and tested activities e.g. energy advice, benefits maximisation, home improvements with a number of new innovations. These include developing a tailored guide for residential park mobile homes, trialling a whole community approach identifying cold homes with thermal imaging, and a Yorkshire wide campaign to raise awareness with the wider public of the problems and solutions to cold homes including a fun element of making draught excluders.

The project has been awarded £394,000 to deliver this work.

Rural Action Yorkshire

Based at Askham Bryan, near York, RAY is one of 38 Rural Community Councils in England.  It is an independent, charitable, and voluntary organisation working across rural areas of North, South and West Yorkshire, to help communities improve the quality of life for all people living and working in rural Yorkshire.

RAY enables and empowers communities to develop the confidence to help themselves, and to ensure their needs are heard by policy makers and service providers – on a local, regional and national scale. Key work includes:

*Offering support, training, events and resources on everything affecting life in a rural area

*Help with funding, running community buildings, and staying up to date with the latest legislation

*Assisting with the implementation of Community Led Plans, which identify the strengths and weaknesses of an area and plan the future of community development work.

RAY and the other 37 rural community councils across England form the national ACRE Network (Action with Communities in Rural England). Find Rural Action Yorkshire online at www.ruralyorkshire.org.ukand Twitter @RuralYorkshire