Hundreds of households throughout Greater Manchester are set to receive a helping hand staying warm this winter and next.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority has secured funding for two schemes designed to provide vulnerable people with free energy advice and support, access to central heating if it has not already been fitted and energy-saving measures to help tackle fuel poverty and bring energy bills under control.

Those eligible for receiving help from the schemes are those most in need of support, including people on a low income, people vulnerable to the cold because of health conditions, and homes that have never been fitted with central heating.

Cllr Alex Ganotis, Greater Manchester’s Green City Region lead, said: “In this day and age it’s not right that people are getting into debt or falling ill because they are too poor to heat their homes. This initiative is a perfect example of public and private sector agencies coming together to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

By April 2018, an estimated 1500 households across Greater Manchester will have received help and advice through the Local Energy Advice Programme (LEAP), which is expected to be run again from July 2018.

The scheme involves qualified home energy advisors visiting people’s homes to offer advice on lowering energy bills, saving energy through insulation and draught proofing, accessing grants and benefits, managing debt, and staying warm.

To supplement the energy advice programme, Greater Manchester Combined Authority has secured the use of a £1.8m Warm Homes Fund issued by Cadent (formerly National Grid). The fund will be used throughout 2018 to fit central heating to around 500 fuel-poor homes in Greater Manchester that haven’t had it before. Most will be powered with gas boilers, but where boilers aren’t viable, air source heat pumps will be used.

Households will be targeted for the schemes based on a variety of criteria, including household income, homes in a fuel-poor area, and households on the Priority Services Register – the free service provided by energy suppliers and network operators to customers in need.

In Greater Manchester both schemes are being operated by AgilityEco.

Gearoid Lane, CEO of AgilityEco said: “We are delighted to be delivering both the LEAP service and the Warm Homes Fund project across Greater Manchester. In the many council areas across Britain where LEAP is already operating, residents have been very positive about the support they have received. The Warm Homes Fund will also make a huge difference in helping people to heat their homes effectively.”

Coordinated by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, funding for the two projects has come from a variety of grant schemes, including Cadent’s Warm Homes Fund and Warm Homes Discount, and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funds from utility companies. Electricity North West, the electricity network distributor for Greater Manchester, is also supporting the scheme by funding 500 of the energy advice referrals.

Stephanie Trubshaw, Customer Director for Electricity North West, said: “We are proud to be the first power network operator to fund this great scheme. We are not only committed to keeping the power on for everyone across Greater Manchester, but we are also dedicated to supporting our customers and their welfare.

“We have more than 390,000 customers from across the North West signed-up to our Priority Services Register so we can provide them with extra support if they are without power and the Local Energy Advice Programme is a great addition to our ongoing commitment to supporting the welfare of our customers.

All support through LEAP and the Warm Homes Fund scheme is subject to availability and suitability. To find out more about either scheme, and whether you’re eligible for an energy advice visit, go online at www.applyforleap.org.uk  or call for free on 0800 060 7567. All visits will be by appointment only and assessors will carry photo ID.

To find out more about the Priority Service Register or to sign up please visit www.electricitynorthwest.co.uk/priority or call for free on 0800 195 4141.

More information about the Warm Homes Fund is available on the GMCA website