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Get help now to help keep winter fuel bills down

West Midlands residents are being advised to act now to help cut their fuel bills before the colder months and weather return.

Organisers of the Warmer Homes West Midlands programme are reminding residents that they can provide them with information and guidance to help them heat their home affordably.

The programme forms part of a wider regional fuel poverty and retrofit programme being led by Energy Capital at the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). This aims to provide jobs and support for local people as part of the region’s green recovery. The WMCA set out in March its first Five-Year Plan which includes helping to drastically cut emissions by retrofitting homes.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The WMCA is committed to ensuring the West Midlands is a carbon net zero region by 2041, and eradicating fuel poverty is a key part of our plans. That’s why, as we approach autumn, the Warmer Homes West Midlands programme will be providing information and support to people who are struggling to keep their homes warm.

“By making people’s homes more energy efficient, we can both help the environment and help people save money on their energy bills – as well as improve the health and wellbeing of those whose health is affected by cold and damp conditions.”

Warmer Homes West Midlands is run by Act on Energy, a member of the WMCA fuel poverty task force. The West Midlands has some of the highest rates of fuel poverty in England, second only to the North West region.

The reminder to get in touch with the Warmer Homes West Midlands programme follows the announcement from Ofgem that in October it will be increasing the energy price cap, which will mean higher bills for many consumers. This increase is on top of many consumers having the heating and electricity on more due to home working and schooling, and furlough leave.

The service can offer free advice and support for households in ‘fuel poverty’, which is usually due to a mix of low income, high heating costs and poor energy efficiency rating of a property.

Residents can call a freephone number 0808 196 8298 to talk to advisors who also can provide home visits for more complex cases. The service also has outreach workers who can deliver energy training in the community for groups and organisations supporting vulnerable households.

They also offer help with budgeting, crisis support funding for vulnerable and fuel poor households and supply and installation of free energy saving measures such as draughtproofing, heat reflective radiator foils and energy efficient lightbulbs.

Rachel Jones, chief executive, Act on Energy said: “The imminent increases in the energy price cap and the need for households to spend more on energy during the colder autumn and winter months creates a perfect storm that will push even more households over the financial cliff edge.

“We already have over 300,000 households across the West Midlands who are deemed to be in fuel poverty. By taking action now and calling the team at Warmer Homes West Midlands, households across the region can start to get valuable support with their own energy use and more confidently navigate the current challenges.”

Cllr Ian Courts WMCA portfolio lead for energy and environment and Leader of Solihull Council said: “Many people will be worried about the prospect of their heating bills increasing this winter however the Warmer Homes programme can offer free and trusted advice about what help is available.

“As well as saving money, their advice can help residents heat their homes more efficiently, helping to decrease their carbon footprint and contribute to a carbon net zero region by 2041.”

Warmer Homes West Midlands can be contacted on 0808 1968 298. Their free and impartial energy advice is open to householders in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry.

About the WMCA

Led by the Mayor of the West Midlands, the WMCA brings together 18 local councils and three Local Enterprise Partnerships to oversee the transfer of powers and funding from Whitehall to the West Midlands.

The WMCA is putting these new powers from government back where they belong, in local hands, bringing the region together to build a healthier, happier, better connected and more prosperous West Midlands.

Billions of pounds are being invested by the WMCA to improve the region’s transport network, transform its derelict industrial land into new homes and workplaces, support existing businesses and help grow the innovative, green industries of the future.

At the heart of this vision is a strong economy that is both green and inclusive, one that supports the region’s ambition to be net zero carbon by 2041 and offers everyone the opportunity of a good quality, affordable home and the skills needed for a worthwhile job.

Follow WMCA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/westmidlandsca