Milton Keynes City Council is funding a free ‘Warmth and Wellbeing Helpline’ offering advice to residents on how to get support with soaring energy costs, as part of a package of assistance set out in its £3.3m Cost of Living Crisis Winter Plan.
Local people can call freephone 0800 107 0044 to get expert advice from National Energy Foundation’s Better Housing Better Health team, who will assess their situation and suggest help including how to get better energy deals, and how to apply for grants to make a home better insulated and more energy efficient. The Foundation estimates that some residents could save as much as £115 a year by implementing its advice.
The helpline team can also advise on wider issues such as avoiding debt, loneliness, and accessibility. An aftercare service will be provided to ensure people are offered continued support.
The helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm.
MK City Council has declared a ‘cost-of-living emergency’ and has already allocated more than £18m in support for struggling residents. Its Winter Plan published at the start of November includes extra funding for local projects that provide food or domestic essentials or that can offset or reduce energy bills. Thanks to this funding, the MK Foodbank is creating 88 new ‘top up shops’ and the City Council is providing supermarket vouchers to hungry families during school holidays. Other initiatives will be announced in the days ahead.
Leader of MK City Council, Cllr Pete Marland said: “The cost-of-living emergency is taking its toll on vulnerable families and we’re prepared to do everything we can to help. Rising energy costs are putting huge strain on people, leaving them to make the horrific choice between heating and eating.
“That just isn’t right and this helpline could be vital for people in getting them the support they so desperately need. We really need people to come forward early if they’re struggling to ensure we can offer help before they get into serious debt.”
National Energy Foundation Director of Operations, Alison Vickers said: “Our Better Housing Better Health project could not be more important than in the current cost of living crisis. We understand that every home is unique and everyone’s relationship with their home energy is different, which is why our team is here to listen, tailor their advice and fully support residents in staying warm and well this winter. As a Milton Keynes based charity, we’re happy to sharing our service with a city that we know and love.”