£57m for Sandwell Council home improvements

Around £57 million will be spent by Sandwell Council on home improvements over the next decade so families do not have to choose 'between heating and eating'. <!--more-->

Sandwell Council House in Oldbury
Sandwell Council House in Oldbury

The money has been set aside under the authority's ambitions to provide 'affordable warmth' for families.

Plans for spending could include replacement of electric storage heaters with gas central heating, installing double glazing in council homes, one-off boiler replacements and external wall insulation.

A report into the efficiency of providing energy from photovoltaic cells - very advanced solar panels - is also under consideration.

Phil Deery, the asset manager of the council's homes and communities department, stated in a report to be considered by a tenant review panel tonight (TUES): "The cost of energy is the subject of debate across the country and there are regular reports of families having to make the choice between heating and eating."

It comes after latest figures, which emerged in December, revealed one in three households in the borough was living in fuel poverty.

The situation in Sandwell is worse than other parts of the country. Nationally one in five households live in fuel poverty, which means a household cannot keep their homes adequately warm at a reasonable cost.

Councillor Steve Eling, the borough's finance chief, said the authority had prioritised this as an area for investment because of the number of homes struggling with energy bills.

He said: "Having energy efficient homes is critically important. People will see a direct benefit from this as it brings their household bills down.

"If people had to choose between having new kitchen units fitted or halving their heating bill, I think they would make this choice themselves."

The authority, which itself needs to save £120m by 2016, had been hoping for clarity from the Government in its autumn statement on what funding it could draw down for efficient energy schemes.

It has been hoping to be able to receive funds from the so-called Energy Company Obligation, under which large energy supplier companies could help cover the costs of energy efficiency measures for homes.

While it is still not certain what money will be available from that source however, the authority has decided to fast track improvements to 500 non-traditional homes in the next two financial years. Many of these are concrete panel houses built in the 1950s and 1960s.

That is instead of the original plan to do this work over the next four financial years.

The council has already run the Sandwell Energy Switch, a scheme which helps residents club together to change suppliers so they have greater collective buying power and companies offer them cheaper deals.

Comments for: "£57m for Sandwell Council home improvements"

Crell

One in three households living in fuel poverty - absolutely DISGRACEFUL. And the amount set aside? Equally disgraceful is that these "fast track improvements" are only being brought forward because there is an election. Sandwell Council's response is nothing short of an act of reactionary desperation. Many people can't afford to eat, can't afford to heat their homes - it's NOT simply because these are old houses; it's because these people are seen are POOR. FULL STOP. This money will do very little to address wage inequality. And why do you think the government won't disclose how much, if any, funding Sandwell will get? That's right - because they KNOW - they KNOW - YOU will NOT like their answer. The deceit and corruption here is off the scale. It's turned this entire region into a laughing stock, an economic wasteland and place to avoid if you have aspirations beyond a live of drudgery. Well done, Sandwell. Another election, another fine mess.

Boinggobaggies

Crell if that's what you think of Sandwell its probably time to pack your bags and find pastures new.

It's true Sandwell council have made a complete mess of almost everything they have touched but there are some of us in Sandwell who have "aspirations beyond a life of drudgery" and are quite happy to stay here in what you describe as an economic wasteland, but then this economic wasteland offers many opportunities if you are prepared to make a bit of an effort !

As for the £57 million well we need to save £120 million so why does Sandwell council not make the bold decision to only make the improvements to the houses of people who have bothered to get out and get a job in say the last couple of years or are registerd disabled that should save a good chunk towards the £120m.

Oh sorry I forgot its against peoples human rights to be singled out for being bone idle and wanting everything handed to them on a plate !

Ivor

I like the "we have to save" bit.

But this £57 M is just £5.7 M a year , less than Sandwell spends on Taxi's for school kids and temporary staff

Nice to know where this lots priorities are

charlie17

Lucky people who live in Council homes who are already on subsidised rents, what about the people who are also POOR and living in private rented accommodation, or the low income family who have worked hard and saved to buy a house. These people probably pay the Council Tax that pays for this luxury of new radiators, new boilers, double glazing, insulation and even maybe solar panels, who helps them????

markie

You are so right, Charlie, My daughter was widdowed with 3 young children at 30 years old.

She lives in her own home, and has to pay for all repairs and replacements on the same income support as someone who gets all of this done free of charge in social housing.

Shewolf

I live in Bearwood which is sadly part of Sandwell. With two people working in this house we can't afford external insulation.

What a joke- why should those in council houses/on benefits get everything?

I am only grateful that we have had no snow this year as they don't even grit the roads up here!!!

This is nothing more than a pre-election bribe.