PEOPLE struggling to pay energy bills are being urged to reach out for support to help them get subsidised loft and cavity wall insulation.

Swindon Council has a tranche of funding for residents who are over 70 or are on income or disability benefit to subsidise improvements to their home they may not otherwise be able to afford.

The authority is attempting to reduce the numbers of those in ‘fuel poverty’ across the town. At least 10 per cent of households – a total of 8,586 – are said to be spending more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel to achieve adequate levels of warmth.

But David Miles, affordable warmth coordinator of the Safe and Warm scheme, said: “This figure won’t take account of the effect of price rises and reducing incomes over the last two years, so the actual figure would likely be higher than this.”

Since the scheme started two-and-a-half years ago, the authority has received interest from 16,000 households and believes insulation measures have saved homeowners an estimated total of £171,765 a year on their energy bills.

David said his team has also identified more than £2m in unclaimed benefits for people who may not know what they are entitled to. With the scheme potentially drawing to a close this year, he urged people who are eligible to register their interest before March 31.

He said: “In terms of levels of fuel poverty, at 10 per cent, we were one of the best in the South West but despite the work we were doing it was going up. This was a trend happening across the country.

“It has been very difficult over the past 12 months and in 2012 we could not give it away. The fact is we have this funding for these groups we feel are deserving of help and they cannot get it elsewhere.”

Those who are receiving income or disability benefit, are disabled or over 80 can get fully subsidised insulation, while people over 70, in a council tax band A or B property or with a child under four in a band A, B or C home, can get cavity and loft installations for just £50.

David estimates savings that can be made from these measures include up to £180 a year with loft insulation and up to £140 a year for cavity wall insulation.

He said: “Typical prices without any subsidy – for a three-bed semi-detached house – are £812 for cavity wall insulation and £427 for loft insulation.”

To arrange a free no-obligation survey, contact David on 01793 463679 or email