Poor families lose out on £30m aid for utility bills

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The Independent Online

Some £30m earmarked to help vulnerable families cut heating bills is set to be unclaimed because of Treasury rule changes.

The Warm Front scheme pays energy-efficiency improvements of up to £3,500 for those in fuel poverty. But last year's scheme changes mean that only those on certain disability or income-related benefits qualify – so £30m of the £366m fund will be unclaimed by the end-March deadline, says consumer group, Consumer Focus. Jonathan Stearn, an energy expert at the government watchdog, said: "This could have helped some of the poorest households to keep warm, well and cut their energy bills."

Earlier this week, The Independent revealed that annual deaths related to fuel poverty total almost 8,000, three times the previous estimates.