COUNCILLORS are to vote on Darlington's participation in a project that aims to address issues relating to fuel poverty.

Darlington Borough Council's cabinet members are expected to recommend participation in the Warm Homes Fund Partnership, which aims to deliver "energy efficiency measures" across the borough.

In July 2017, National Grid announced a national grant fund of £150m available for all organisations, including local authorities to bid for, to help address issues relating to fuel poverty

A consortium of seven local authorities including Darlington, registered housing

providers and community partners made a joint bid of almost £1.8m that has proved to be successful.

Fuel poverty levels when last recorded in 2015 showed that more than 14 per cent of residents were in fuel poverty, representing 6,663 households.

This is a rise from 12.6 per cent in 2014.

A report, which will be discussed by cabinet members next week, said there was approximately 2,040 households not connected to the gas network in Darlington.

The funding will be made available to to install first time central heating in homes and will include gas central heating, oil central heating, LPG and air source heat pumps.

The property must not already have central heating and must need a central heating system.

The report said participation in the project will deliver "energy efficiency improvements for qualifying residents in the borough" and "fuel poverty levels and associated problems in the borough will be reduced".

Initially a partnership of all five Tees Valley authorities had intended to collectively bid to the fund, however we were subsequently invited to join a larger regional bid led by Northumberland County Council.

The report went on to say: "Year one of the bid is a modest bid of nearly £1.8 million recognising the significant preparation and start up time required for the project and the need to deliver installations onwards from December 2017 and until November 2018.

"The Funders have recognised the strength of the consortium bid and have welcomed further bids in Years 2 and 3 of the funding cycle.

"Only 43 bids out of 264 bids were successful reflecting both the strength of the consortium bid and the challenging bid criteria.

"The specific objectives of the fund are to increase comfort in non-gas, fuel poor households, to reduce fuel bills and improve health and therefore reduce fuel poverty."