New schemes to help with fuel costs

ELDERLY people and those on fixed incomes who are struggling to cope with escalating energy costs are being told there is help available.

This week, Bury St Edmunds Citizens Advice Bureau has introduced two new schemes, Surviving Winter and Warm Homes Healthy People, to help people with their energy bills.

In Suffolk, more than 400 deaths are caused each year by cold weather and the schemes let people know there is an answer to rising energy costs.

Jane Ballard, CAB manager, said: “These schemes are for people to realise there is help out there and that there is something they can do.”

The aim is to help inform people on how to manage and pay their winter energy bills. This mainly applies to those on fixed incomes, the elderly and the disabled.

Surving Winter is a scheme delivered by Age UK to provide small grants from £125 to £250 to the elderly to help with heating costs. The scheme also provides energy assessment checks, free heater loans and emergency boiler repairs.

The Warm Homes Healthy People scheme started on January 9 and focuses on helping vulnerable households below the pension age mainly in fuel poor areas. It is funded through a bid by Suffolk County Council for £265,000 from the Department of Health. This scheme provides small grants to families to help with energy costs as well as fuel advice.

Mrs Ballard said: “Some of it is a hidden problem because a lot of people will just turn the heating down and won’t bother to seek help.”

The Suffolk Acre Good Neighbours Scheme is also encouraging communities to get together to bulk buy oil at the best price. For the Surviving Winter scheme call 01473 359911; Winter Homes call 08456037686 and the Home Heat Helpline is on 0800336699.