£30m to keep homes warm in winter

houses covered in snowAn extra £30 million will be made available by the Government to help keep homes warm during winter, it has been announced.

Existing schemes for those at risk of fuel poverty will be boosted by £10 million, while a new fund for local authorities and charities to tackle cold housing will be given £20 million.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the money would "protect those most in need" while Age UK described the plan as a "very important step in the right direction".

According to the Department of Health, more than £850 million is spent by the NHS each year as a result of the impact of cold housing on people's health.

Officials claim that if £10 million is put towards Warm Front - one of the current schemes to support people in fuel poverty - it could provide around 5,000 low-income households with improvements to insulation and heating worth £3,500.

Meanwhile the Warm Housing, Healthy People fund will invite bids from local authorities and charities for innovative ways of helping vulnerable elderly people, families with young children and people with disabilities who are not suitable for existing support to warm their homes.

It is estimated the £20 million scheme could help around 10,000 households.

Mr Lansley also launched a Cold Weather Plan, which will be jointly run by the Met Office and the Health Protection Agency to advise people how to stay healthy during the winter, in a bid to relieve the pressure on the NHS.

The Health Secretary said: "We want everyone to get ready for winter and be prepared before temperatures drop.

"We cannot look at health in isolation. We must look at the bigger picture, which is why I am making £30 million available to help keep homes warm."

© 2011 Press Association
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