HEATING our homes is a costly affair - one that a worrying number of people in part of Cumbria cannot properly afford to do.

Eden, along with other parts of the county, has long had problems with so-called fuel poverty, with many having to face an agonising choice of whether to pay to heat or eat as colder weather bites.

But a new campaign has been launched to help those struggling - and people generally - cope with the problems they face, and to boost the health of local people.

A new project has been launched by an alliance of groups, which aims to tackle fuel poverty in the area.

Warm Homes Eden is a new drive funded by the Eden Council and in collaboration with Cumbria County Council, Electricity North West and the NHS through the Eden Integrated Care Community.

What is fuel poverty?

It is a set of circumstances whereby an individual is unable to afford to keep their home adequately warm. With Eden having an above average percentage of over 65s when compared with the rest of the UK, it is more important than ever before to clamp down on fuel poverty.

What does the Warm Homes Eden initiative offer?

Operated by environmental charity Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS), the scheme will offer assessment and advice to help people with:

  • Saving money on heating costs – control it better/support to move tariff
  • Draft proofing
  • Insulation
  • Replacing inefficient heating
  • Benefit review (including council tax discount for some health conditions) - income maximisation
  • Support with energy debt
  • Warm home discount
  • Priority Services Register for people in need

Is there support available elsewhere?

Each year Cumbria Community Foundation’s Winter Warmth Fund helps more than 1,000 people across the county to keep warm.

Payments of between £125 and £250 of available to those who fit certain criteria such as age and circumstances.

To apply to this fund, contact one of the following:

Age UK Carlisle and Eden: Paul Grindley - 01228 536673

Age UK West Cumbria (Allerdale and Copeland): Linda Chapples - 01229 779711

Judith Derbyshire, housing and health portfolio holder at Eden Council, said: “Eden Council is delighted to be working with other agencies, by both jointly funding and delivering this Warm Homes Eden project.

“The project is designed to help residents to save money on their heating and make their homes warmer.

“Offering an energy efficiency service for low income households is a key objective for Eden Council because we have such a pre-dominance of solid wall properties, which can be hard to heat. Two thirds of the district is not connected to the mains gas network and reliant on other more expensive forms of heating.”

How big of a problem is fuel poverty in Cumbria?

On average 300 people die in the county due to the effects of cold weather. In Cumbria 12.2 per cent of households suffer from fuel poverty, which is lower than the north west average of 12.8 per cent.

In 2017 fuel poverty impacted the following number of households in each area:

  • Allerdale - 5,287/11.9 per cent of total
  • Carlisle - 6,113/12.1 per cent of total
  • Copeland - 3,756/11.7 per cent of total
  • Eden - 2,880/11.9 per cent of total

Andrew Northcott, of Cumbria Action for Sustainability, said: “Working with many partners to deliver Warm Homes Eden should ensure as many people as possible can find out what is available to improve the energy performance of their home – leading to warmer homes that are safer to live in during winter, whilst helping tackle climate change.

“We are supporting Warm Homes Eden so that customers can contact us about a wide range of home energy matters, including energy advice visits, tariff advice and switching and a wide range of home energy improvements for eligible households.”

To find out more about Warm Homes Eden call 01768 593240 or visit https://tinyurl.com/y3zk59c2.