A £111,000 scheme to improve the energy efficiency of homes in Redditch has won universal approval from borough councillors.
The cash grants will be available over three years to homeowners in receipt of benefits such as income support, jobseekers allowance or working tax credits and those earning less than the average household income of £36,000.
The money has been found from within existing council budgets and can be used on the most cost-effective projects like cavity wall and loft insulation, draught proofing, heating and heating controls and energy efficient lighting.
In all £64,000 will be used to ease fuel poverty, £30,000 to replace inefficient heating systems, and £17,000 to fund boiler repairs and the scheme will be delivered through local energy advisors Act on Energy.
In exchange the council would be looking for a household contribution of £250 from the people benefiting.
“It’s at this time of year that the boiler breaks, and people in our community find themselves really struggling and this scheme has come at a very good time,” said Councillor Debbie Taylor (Lab, Central).
Opposition councillors also welcomed the project, however Coun Brandon Clayton (Con, Ast Bk, Feckenham) was worried about the £250 people would have to pay.
“This will be a good scheme and it’s made to catch the exact people we are missing, but I’m concerned because we will miss an opportunity if people are on low income, to take £250 off them. To some people it’s not an awful lot of money but to others it is to get a new boiler,” he said.
However housing strategy manager Derek Allen told councillors that one of the aims of the scheme was to enable householders to be more financially and personally independent and that officers would have the discretion to look at cases in which ‘exceptional circumstances’ apply.