From: Reading Borough Council <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 2:30 PM
Subject: Winter Watch Will Help Residents Keep Warm
Winter Watch Will Help Residents Keep Warm
Reading Borough Council Press Release
A SCHEME that helps vulnerable Reading residents keep warm through the winter is about to get under way again as the weather starts to get colder.
This year's Winter Watch will run from November to the end of March 2015.
Since it was launched in Reading three years ago, Winter Watch has provided practical support and information to more than 2,000 vulnerable households in the borough.
Under last winter's scheme, council officers visited 148 residents and offered a range of advice and practical assistance to help them reduce their energy bills.
Winter Watch targets at-risk groups including pensioners, people with serious illnesses and disabilities, people on a range of benefits and families with young children.
Support on offer includes:
- Home energy checks
- Access to grants for insulation
- Provision of heaters and bedding
- Emergency payments
Last winter, 78 residents received emergency financial assistance to help them make their homes warmer.
Ten residents were supported by the Council to gain access to boiler upgrades or insulation measures through the Government's ECO funding scheme. Under this scheme, people may qualify for a free energy-efficient gas boiler, free loft insulation and free cavity wall insulation, if they receive certain state benefits and live in a private property.
Fifteen residents applied for a £135 discount on their electricity bills through the Warm Home Discount scheme.
Council officers also ran eight events to publicise the Winter Watch scheme, which has now completed its third year in Reading.
Last year's Winter Watch helped residents with a wide range of heating issues, including:
- A woman in her nineties, who lived alone, was discharged from hospital but the 35-year-old boiler in her home had broken down. The team arranged emergency heating and draught-proofing and helped her apply for a new boiler under the ECO scheme
- A gas boiler that hadn't worked for 10 years was repaired with the help of Winter Watch
- A single parent was living with two young children in a property with old, expensive-to-run storage heaters. The team offered advice on how to run the heaters more efficiently and helped the resident apply to her energy supplier for a £135 Warm Homes discount
An estimated 7,200 households in Reading – almost 12 per cent – are considered 'fuel poor' and will struggle to afford the cost of heating their homes.
Cllr Richard Davies, Lead Member for Housing, said:
"Rising fuel costs are a concern for all of us and even more so for the most vulnerable people in our community, some of whom are faced with choosing whether to heat their homes or to pay other bills. The cold affects people's health and well-being; therefore I am delighted that this year's Winter Watch scheme has continued to reach out to members of our community who most particularly need our help.
"The Winter Watch scheme will continue to reach out to members of our community who urgently need our help."
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Lead Member for Health, said:
"Over the past 10 years, it is estimated that there has been an average of 26,700 excess winter deaths in England and Wales. I therefore fully support anything we can do as a local Council to guard against the potentially disastrous effects of inadequate heating on people's health."
Call 0118 937 3747 to find out more about the help available from Winter Watch or visit the website at firstname.lastname@example.orgENDS
Notes for Editors:
1. For more information on the Warm Home discount Scheme, go to https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/overview
2. For more information on the ECO affordable warmth scheme, go to http://www.affordablewarmthscheme.co.uk/
Reading Borough Council Press Releases can be found online at http://www.reading.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/
Media Contact: Chris Branagan
Tel: 0118 937 4289