Number of Hastings households in fuel poverty above national average

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Almost 12 per cent of households in Hastings are living in fuel poverty.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 11.8 per cent of families in the town cannot afford to heat their home to the standard recommended to help maintain good health.

The average for England is 10.6 per cent.

The figure for the neighbouring Rother district is nine per cent.

Across the county, an estimated 21,500, or one in 10 households in the county, are living in fuel poverty.

To combat the problem, East Sussex County Council is working with Sussex Community Foundation to launch the council’s East Sussex Stay Well This Winter Fund.

The scheme will see £12,000 made available for projects which raise awareness of services to tackle fuel poverty, offer practical assistance, advice and support or run activities to help people stay warm and well.

Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director of public health, said: “It’s important for people in vulnerable groups to be prepared for cold weather.

“Living in a cold home can exacerbate underlying health issues such as breathing problems, heart conditions or risk of a stroke – and can even be fatal.

“The fund will allow local groups and charities to play a greater role in supporting older and vulnerable people to stay warm at home.”

People can stay safe in cold weather by keeping their home heated to at least 18C (64F), having hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day, staying active and wearing lots of thin layers.

Kevin Richmond, chief executive of Sussex Community Foundation, said: “We have 10 years’ experience of funding groups tackling issues such as fuel poverty, and worked with the council on our Surviving Winter campaign a few years ago.

“There are many people in the county who struggle to keep warm in the winter and local charities are an invaluable source of help for them.”

The East Sussex Stay Well This Winter Fund forms part of the East Sussex Energy Partnership’s wider programme of action to tackle fuel poverty.

Projects which may benefit include those which raise awareness of services to tackle fuel poverty, such as the county council’s free Winter Home Check service and those which offer practical help such as reprogramming heating and hot water timers.

Money may also be given to projects which provide activities such as social clubs and lunch clubs, and those which offer advice and support for people on low incomes.

The deadline for applications for grants of up to £5,000 is Friday, October 7, and projects awarded funding must deliver the work by the end of March 2017.

More information and details of how to apply are available online at www.sussexgiving.org.uk/staywell.

The East Sussex Winter Home Check service is free and available all year round for older people on a low income, families with children, disabled people or those with an ongoing health condition.

It includes an assessment of the home to identify how to keep warm, small works such as improving insulation or repairing boilers, emergency temporary heating and advice on getting help to pay for heating.

More information is available at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/keepwarm.

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