On Thursday last week, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne announced the reopening of the Warm Front scheme, which aims to provide financial support for eligible households that struggle to cope with the cost of central heating and insulation.
The Warm Front scheme was suspended late last year after the Government declared there was no cash left for new applications. Amid deep public spending cuts, the Department for Energy and Climate Change had to concede that no further funds would be made available after its annual budget of £345 million was expended by Christmas.
With the arrival of the new financial year, the Department for Energy and Climate Change was able to reopen the Warm Front scheme for new applications.
Mr Huhne stated: “We have improved the Warm Front scheme so it’s better targeted at those who need it most, helping around 90,000 households over the next two years. Next year, we will be launching the Green Deal, the Government’s national overhaul of home energy efficiency, which will provide extra help to vulnerable households”.
Despite much of Britain enjoying fine weather of late, millions of people across the country continue to experience fuel poverty, which has been defined by the UK Government as arising when at least 10 per cent of a household’s income is spent on energy bills.
The Warm Front scheme aims to offer help to some of Britain’s most vulnerable households, yet not all people who have been living in fuel poverty are eligible to receive payments under the initiative. The UK Government claims to have addressed this issue by widening the criteria used to assess eligibility, with various income-related benefits being considered to focus on fuel poor households.
Although it is good news that the Warm Front scheme is once again accepting applications and that greater attention is to be paid to supporting low-income families, the initiative’s budget has been cut from £345m for 2010/2011 to just £110m for 2011/2012. If unseasonably cold weather grips the nation as it did in 2009 and 2010, it is quite likely that the Warm Front scheme will again be closed for business by Christmas.