RESIDENTS could be given grants to install solar panels following a council’s windfall of £147,000.

Ribble Valley Borough Council, who traditionally receive the least money across the North West for grants towards housing, are celebrating a 73 per cent increase.

Even though neighbouring authorities have seen a sharp decrease in housing allocation, Ribble Valley have seen a rise from £200,000 to £347,000, following a change to the formula used for calculating the award.

However, a report to go before councillors, says the extra cash will not be enough to provide more affordable homes in the area.

The council have announced a range of extra spending plans, including providing household grants of £1,500 for renewable energy projects, such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps, where heat is extracted from the ground.

The scheme would cost around £15,000 to implement and would be available to council tax band properties A to F.

A separate £10,000 pot would be available to those over 60 or on income-related benefits for free loft and cavity wall insulation for council tax bands A to D.

Other suggestions include a £25,000 fund for disability grants where homes need special adaptations as well as increasing the landlord/tenant budget by £40,000.

Plans also include increasing the tenancy protect-ion scheme by £5,000.

The council’s Health and Housing Committee will decide whether to implement the suggestions when they meet tomorrow.

Chairman of the committee. Coun Stuart Hirst. said: “We do welcome any increase in funding, because we will spend it extremely well.

“However, the real key to success is working in partnership with the social and private sector landlords.”

In a report to go before councillors, Rachael Stott, housing strategy officer, said: “Although the allocation has increased substantially, existing commitments mean that the amount remaining does not leave significant resources to deliver any new affordable development schemes or projects.

“Therefore it is felt the money is used to support energy efficient measures.”

Recently the council announced plans to secure money from the Homes and Communities Agency as part of plans to build around 50 new homes in the area.