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Funds available from St Helens’ Social Landlord to help tenants in Fuel Poverty

St Helens housing association, Helena Partnerships, is helping its residents out of fuel poverty with assistance from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust.

The Trust provided the social landlord with almost £100,000 of funding to finance a three year project - the Affordable Warmth Fuel Debt Relief Scheme - which aims to help the most vulnerable tenants.

Helena tenants can apply for an interest-free loan to help them out if they are struggling with fuel debt or bills. The Fuel Debt Relief fund provides eligible households with a loan to be repaid at a realistic and manageable pace.

The project, which launched in October 2009, has already provided loans totalling £10,000 to help with fuel poverty and has carried out over 200 home heating checks.

Lone parents and young people, who have been identified as extremely vulnerable are the main target of the project, alongside the elderly and people with disabilities.  However, any Helena Partnerships tenant who is classed as living in fuel poverty with more than 10 per cent of their income spent on fuel can apply for a loan and all tenants are entitled to free advice on energy efficiency.

Ann Loughrey, ScottishPower’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and the ScottishPower Energy People Trust’s Company Secretary, said: “We’re pleased to hear that our funding is being put to good use and is already helping people out of fuel poverty.  It’s also encouraging to know that over 200 residents have been given energy advice which will work to their benefit in the long term.

“Fuel poverty affects so many households across the country and it’s important that people affected are aware of the wide range of grants available to help them avoid the problem.  We’d advise Helena tenants who are struggling with their fuel bills or debt to get in touch with the Affordable Warmth Project for advice and assistance with their bills as soon as possible.”

Liz Howse, Affordable Warmth Project Officer at Helena Homes, added: “This vital funding from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust is helping numerous people in St. Helens out of debt caused by fuel poverty.  Helena Partnerships is committed to tackling the issue of fuel poverty within St. Helens and is delighted that we’ve been provided with funding to do this. 

 “Our residents can contact us to apply for an interest-free loan from the Fuel Debt Relief fund which will help to pay fuel bills or cut debt. When the interest-free loan is repaid, 10% of the amount borrowed will be paid back to the tenant, therefore encouraging people to save.”

Helena Partnerships would also like to hear from volunteers from the community to join its Affordable Warmth Project. Once trained in energy efficiency, theses volunteers will be able to carry out home heating checks and provide energy advice in the home to enable tenants to keep their homes warm and manage their fuel bills.

Thursday, July 15, 2010