SUFFOLK has been handed £263,000 to tackle fuel poverty and promote energy efficiency.

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The award is part of £46million of funding announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

More than half the money, £168,000, will be spent on fighting fuel poverty. Estimates suggest around 43,802 households in Suffolk are affected by fuel poverty – defined as when more than 10% of a household’s income is spent on keeping warm.

The rest of the grant, £98,000, will be spent on encouraging people to make their homes more energy efficient. It will be used to promote energy efficiency and carry out home assessments to see where energy savings can be made.

Last year figures from the Energy Saving Trust revealed take up of loft and cavity wall insulation grants in Suffolk lags behind the regional average. Suffolk Coastal – who had 9.3% of homes improved between April 2008 and September 2011; Mid-Suffolk, 8.8%; and Forest Heath, 7.9% – all trail the regional average of 10.7%.

Councillor Lisa Chambers, cabinet member for the environment at Suffolk County Council, said: “People in Suffolk will directly benefit from this significant sum of money that has been secured as a result of Suffolk’s local authorities working together.

“This money will help alleviate fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency in homes and business across the county.

“This is really great news for Suffolk that supports both caring for vulnerable people and our ambition to become the greenest county.”

Energy Secretary Edward Davey said: “We need to find new ways to help people with their energy bills, working with communities and councils across the country.

“The projects we are funding will help people save energy and save money: helping the most vulnerable to heat their homes, getting the Green Deal market up and running and encouraging people to switch energy suppliers to get their bills down.

“This £46million will help local councils across England upgrade inefficient heating kit as well as creating demand for and installing insulation under the Green Deal in homes across their local areas.

“Funding will also be used to drive forward collective purchasing and switching initiatives at a local level, helping consumers get a better deal on their energy bills.”

The Green Deal is a Government initiative that sees people encouraged to make their homes more energy efficient.

The Government provides the initial finance for such measures, which is then paid back via savings on energy bills.

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