Government plans better service and bigger grants for home heating scheme

The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Warm Front Scheme has been changed to improve the quality of service for its customers. Warm Front provides grants for people on qualifying disability or income related benefits to install insulation or energy efficient heating in their homes.

Following a review of the contract with eaga, the Warm Front Scheme Manager, a number of alterations have been agreed which will open the Scheme up to other installation contractors and offer greater competition to provide best value for money. Households connected to the gas grid are now eligible for grants of up to £3500, up from £2700, while those in areas off the gas grid can apply for funding up to £6000, an increase of £2000.

The Scheme is also being expanded to include the installation of low-carbon heat and power technologies such as solar thermal heating and air source heat pumps, which will help householders generate their own low-cost, renewable energy. These technologies will initially be trialled in small-scale pilot programmes.

Energy and climate change minister Joan Ruddock said: “Warm Front has helped nearly two million households since it was introduced, making homes warmer and more energy efficient providing savings of up to £300 a year on energy bills.

“The Scheme has worked well, but rising costs of installing heating and insulation measures often resulted in grant levels being exceeded. We could not allow the very poorest to be unable to proceed because they couldn't contribute to the cost.

“We've listened, and we've acted. These increases will take effect immediately, benefitting all new customers, and will also apply to Warm Front clients who have received approval for funding but are still waiting for the work to start. This means more people will be able to go ahead with improvements to their home without having to worry about funding it themselves.”

Funding to the Warm Front Scheme has been increased by £174 million since September 2008, bringing total funding to £959 million for the three years to April 2011.