Oxfordshire awarded £6.4m to help low-income households tackle energy inefficiency

Funding from Department of Energy Security and Net Zero will improve at least 310 properties

Hundreds of Oxfordshire households struggling with fuel poverty will benefit from energy efficiency improvements after the county was awarded £6.417 million by the government.

Oxfordshire County Council’s climate team was successful in the second phase of applications to the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG2). The £630m government-funded grant scheme provides energy efficiency upgrades and low carbon heating to low income households living in fuel poverty.

The HUG2 funding will deliver whole-house retrofit installations to at least 310 properties across Oxfordshire that are not heated by mains gas – instead heated, for example, by electricity, liquefied petroleum gas, coal or oil.

Councillor Mark Lygo, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Equalities, said: “Those who live in poor quality housing are more likely to suffer from long-term health conditions such as respiratory illnesses and struggle with fuel poverty. We know that the risk of fuel poverty is, unfortunately, increasing as the cost of living crisis continues.

“Therefore, we hope that the programme will help to expand on and complement the work we are already doing, such as through our Better Housing Better Health service, to make vital home improvements to reduce fuel poverty and improve health conditions.”

Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “A quarter of carbon emissions in the county come from our homes. The least energy efficient homes not only tend to be more expensive to run but also have a greater carbon footprint as a result.

“However, this retrofitting service will allow residents in energy inefficient homes to get improvements required to not only reduce their fuel costs, but also their carbon footprint, removing the funding barrier for those residents most in-need.”

Retrofitting funding will prioritise insulation first, followed by sustainable heating, including air source heat pumps, and then consider renewable, free electricity generation via solar panels.

The programme is available to residents who own their home or privately rent, do not use mains gas for heating, have a combined household income of less than £31,000, or are on means-tested benefits. Homes should also have an energy performance certificate rating of D or below.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “This investment will help thousands of households to heat their homes for less, keep them warm for longer and could save hundreds on their annual energy bill.

“The green energy sector is growing, and this funding will support green jobs and provide the training needed to deliver these vital upgrades to homes.”

For those wishing to find out more, an expression of interest form is available at oxfordshire.gov.uk/retrofit.

Oxfordshire County Council, in collaboration with the districts and city councils, also funds the Better Homes Better Health service. This service supports residents with energy efficiency advice, accessing grant funding and improving access to eligible benefits to reduce fuel poverty and improve health conditions. Residents can call the advice line on 0800 107 0044.

Further information, including eligibility, will be added to Oxfordshire County Council’s website nearer to the project start, in April 2023. The retrofit team can be contacted at retrofit@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Households not eligible for HUG2 grants still have time to see if they can apply for help with retrofitting their properties through HUG1 scheme.

The scheme runs until the end of May and aims to improve poorly insulated homes for low income residents in properties with an EPC rating of D or below. Details are available on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.

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