Heating grant payments stopped
Published on 16 December 2010 03:00 PM
Heating grants for low income families have been stopped after the Government ran out of funds - a decision described by Age UK as 'a huge concern'.
The Warm Front scheme provides up to £3,500 - or £6,000 where there is oil central heating - to families on low incomes who need financial assistance with heating and insulation.
However the Department for Energy and Climate Change has suspended payments until after the full allocation of its £345 million budget.
Any applications made up until Thursday will be granted, while more money will be on offer at the start of the new tax year in April 2011.
Only people on certain disability or income-related benefits are eligible for the cash.
But many of the most vulnerable households in the UK could find it difficult to keep warm this winter, charities and campaigners have warned.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK, described the decision as a blow to about 3.5 million pensioners currently living in fuel poverty.
She said: 'It's a huge concern that many frail and vulnerable older people who desperately need help to upgrade their heating systems or improve insulation will now be left to their own devices. A better targeted scheme is well-needed and we are keen to find out more about the re-design of Warm Front when it re-opens to new customers next year.'
Audrey Gallacher, head of energy at Consumer Focus, said: 'Thousands of low income homes will be hit not only by the freezing weather, but also by the freezing of the Government scheme set up to make their homes warmer.
'This could leave many of the most vulnerable pensioners, families and disabled people without the help they need to keep their homes warm and cut their bills.'
Copyright Press Association 2010