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Council supports move to stamp out fuel poverty

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) is set to help stamp out fuel poverty by assisting its most vulnerable residents to access government funding to make their properties more energy efficient.

Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding is provided by the government to energy companies to help low income and vulnerable households to cut their energy bills and reduce carbon emissions by installing energy saving measures such as solid wall insulation.

Historically, the eligibility criteria to access the funding has been set by central government but this changed following a review in 2017 and now local authorities have greater flexibility to set the criteria themselves to address the local need.

To access the funding, local authorities have to publish a statement of intent which sets out their eligibility criteria for qualifying households.

In its statement of intent, TVBC has identified people on low incomes and those with particular vulnerabilities who will be eligible, along with people in the private rented sector living in some of the borough’s least energy efficient homes.

As well as targeting fuel poverty, ECO funding helps to support local and national aspirations to tackle climate change.

The authority will consider the statement of intent and local eligibility criteria at its cabinet meeting on April 17. If approved, the criteria will be published on the council’s website.

TVBC’s head of housing and environmental health, Phil Turner, said: “One of our housing priorities is to ensure that we are actively supporting people to live in warm, dry, energy efficient homes. We are committed to supporting local residents who are on a low income or who are vulnerable, to access measures that will improve their homes, reduce their fuel bills and safeguard their health.

“We’re really pleased we can enable local people to access help in this way and it forms part of the council’s broader approach to improving housing conditions in the borough.”