Less help for Dearne households as fuel bills rocket

Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com...COPYRIGHT PICTURE>>SHAUN FLANNERY>01302-570814>>07778315553>>..11th May 2012..Dearne Valley College..Opening of DVC Job Zone..L-R Vicky Martin, College Interim Principle Ioan Morgan and John Healey MP (Wentworth and Dearne).

Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com...COPYRIGHT PICTURE>>SHAUN FLANNERY>01302-570814>>07778315553>>..11th May 2012..Dearne Valley College..Opening of DVC Job Zone..L-R Vicky Martin, College Interim Principle Ioan Morgan and John Healey MP (Wentworth and Dearne).

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THE number of people in the Dearne who are getting the same help as in previous years to make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat, has plummeted to just eight per cent, it has been revealed.

The drop was discovered by Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey, who is urging the government to do more to help people struggling with rocketing energy bills.

Between 2006 and 2010, the Warm Front scheme helped 630 households on average each year in the Wentworth and Dearne constituency. But last year (2011/12) that dropped to 60 and so far this year just 52 homes have been insulated and given boiler upgrades.

And the 2012/13 average spend in the area has been slashed to £1,369.10, down from over £3,000 in 2010.

In Rotherham, 145 households have been helped this year compared to an average of more than 1,500 a year between 2006 and 2010.

In Barnsley, 98 were helped this year – another big drop from more than 1,400 on average.

Mr Healey has accused the government of making it harder for people to bring down heating bills and called on the energy minister Greg Barker to do more.

In a letter he said: “In the last year thousands of people have been turned down for help, thousands more have been left waiting to know whether or not they will receive assistance and there is a massive backlog.

“The average level of grant has been slashed, yet only half of the £100m set aside for Warm Front has been spent.

“Meanwhile energy costs are soaring, people are struggling to pay their bills and there are warnings millions more are at risk of fuel poverty.”

Mr Healey urged Mr Barker to re-open the Warm Front scheme (which is being scrapped by the government and closed to new applicants on 19 January) until the 2012/13 budget is spent in full or, at least, guarantee the underspend will go into new schemes providing energy efficiency measures for people in fuel poverty.