Pensioners in Scotland to get free central heating

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The Independent Online

Every pensioner in Scotland is to be offered free central heating in a drive to halve their fuel bills and save lives in winter.

Every pensioner in Scotland is to be offered free central heating in a drive to halve their fuel bills and save lives in winter.

Scottish ministers have announced that all pensioners, regardless of whether they own their home, will qualify for the free installation, worth on average £2,500. Housing association and council tenants in Scotland will also qualify for the £350m scheme, which ministers say will start next April.

Wendy Alexander, the Communities Minister, said the initiative, which will help more than 140,000 people, would "help end fuel poverty.

"People in Scotland are dying because they cannot afford to heat their homes," she said. "It will save people on average £550 on their heating bills. It means that the fuel costs for those people will be halved. More than 90 per cent of the people who will benefit will be taken out of fuel poverty. We have made it a completely universal scheme."

Donald Dewar, Scotland's First Minister, said: "The aim of this project is clear - to provide warm dry homes to those most in need. Our first priority is for all council and housing association pensioners to have their central heating installed. This scheme will radically improve the health of the elderly, reduce the number of winter deaths and pressures on the health service."

The cost of the programme will be met by gas and electricity companies, Scottish Homes and the Warm Deal scheme.

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