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Question over plumbing grants

PUBLISHED: 11:39 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:34 03 July 2010

AN ELDERLY couple are questioning the benefit of a grant funding scheme aimed at helping people on low incomes pay for home-heating repairs.

Douglas and Hilary Feetham, of Century Road, Great Yarmouth sought help from the Warm Front Scheme after their 15-year-old boiler became unreliable.

AN ELDERLY couple are questioning the benefit of a grant funding scheme aimed at helping people on low incomes pay for home-heating repairs.

Douglas and Hilary Feetham, of Century Road, Great Yarmouth sought help from the Warm Front Scheme after their 15-year-old boiler became unreliable.

But when they were presented with a £3,400 quote by a plumber from Warm Front contractors Iguana they investigated whether local plumbers would be able to do the work more cheaply and found one plumber asking just £1,100 to do the job.

Although the couple would have qualified for a £2,700 grant under the Warm Front scheme, they said rather than accepting the money and pay the remaining £796 they would use the local plumber.

Mrs Feetham, 54, said a Warm Front plumber visiting her home in September told her she would need to install another radiator as well as extend the flue taking gases produced by the boiler out of her home. She was also told a central thermostat would have to be installed even though she already had thermostats on each of her four radiators

But the local plumber said the extra work was unnecessary and that the boiler could be replaced without a central thermostat.

She said: “Although it cost us an extra £300 to get the work done through the local plumber, we knew we were getting the work done that we required and wanted rather than what Iguana thought we needed.”

The Warm Front scheme is managed by eaga, which provides energy efficiency services, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change and aims to raise awareness of the effects of increasingly high energy bills on householders and to help those living in fuel poverty.

Cold weather and high energy prices result in increased mortality rates and figures show there were 3,600 cold related deaths in the eastern region in 2007-8.

But an eaga spokesperson said the extra cost was to cover the additional services offered as part of the Warm Front scheme which other plumbers might not offer, including a guarantee that a plumber could be called out 24 hours a day over a two year period following the installation to deal with any problems.

The spokesperson said the Iguana plumber would have looked at extra measures that could be taken to improve the energy efficiency of the home, hence the increased cost.

So far, two million people have received help from the Warm Front scheme, which has been backed by £100m of government funding.

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