MORE than £40,000 will be made available to help vulnerable people keep their homes warm.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has approved plans to create an affordable warmth grant, with about £43,000 made available for a range of heating and

draught proofing measures.

Executive member for neighbourhood and prevention services, Cllr Shaukat Hussain, said: "Absence of adequate heating can have a massive impact on vulnerable people with long term conditions, leading to hospital admission and death.

"We regularly receive referrals via Cosy Homes in Lancashire (CHiL - a countywide energy efficiency and affordable warmth partnership) to top up ECO funding for boiler replacements, but as we have no funding for this, we must decline and therefore a household remains without adequate heating in fuel poverty.

"Broadly it is proposed that vulnerable owner occupier households who are at significant risk of ill health are eligible for a range of heating and draught proofing measures.

"Landlords have the responsibility for provision of adequate heating, but rented households may exceptionally be eligible if prioritised by a relevant professional.

"There is a potential risk that we may not be able to meet the demand for the grant, however our previous experience of managing a similar grant under the Warm Homes Healthy People fund shows that demand is manageable, and similarly the Lancashire Affordable Warmth Grant

scheme has managed demand.

"It should also be noted that the grant will be part funded by ECO and charitable contributions.

The new grant will be funded from a £20,000 surplus in the central heating fund, as well as £23,000 from the housing growth capital programme allocated for energy saving purposes.

Cllr Hussain added: "Given the limited size of this pot there is a potential issue with sustainability of the proposed Affordable Warmth Grant.

"Funding to local authorities via the Lancashire Affordable Warmth scheme which covers all Lancashire local authorities except the two unitary uthorities varies from £25,000 to £70,000.

"Blackpool spends £70,000 on a similar scheme. However the Lancashire scheme includes insulation which will initially be excluded from our scheme as the priority is to get proper heating in the property and address significant draught proofing issues.

"On this basis it is considered that the funding will last for one year after which further Public Health funding is being sought."

Households will be eligible for funding if they meet at least one of the

listed vulnerabilities and have a low income.

Vulnerabilities include people with a diagnosed cardiovascular or respiratory condition, as well as people with diagnosed mental health conditions or disabilities.

People over 65, households with children under five and pregnant women will also be eligible, as will people who are terminally ill.

People with suppressed immune systems and people with mobility issues will also be eligible.

The funding available is directed at interventions that make a long term contribution to helping people keep their homes warm through physical improvements.

This includes servicing, repairs and replacement boilers and heating systems, repairs to radiators and radiator reflectors, as well as installation of new ones, and gas fire services and repairs.

Draught proofing measures can also be taken, while thermal blinds and carpets may be included.

Glazing improvements can be carried out if there are severe draught issues.