A ‘cold buster’ officer could be employed by Thanet council if the proposal is approved.
The idea could be included in the 2023-24 council budget after it was proposed by Labour shadow Cabinet member Rob Yates at an overview meeting earlier this week.
Cllr Yates said the cold buster initiative could be provided by adding a third officer to the council’s home energy service.
He said: “At the recent Climate Change Cabinet Advisory Group officers informed members of the increased demand that is being placed on the Home Energy Service.
“This small team of two officers have provided invaluable expert advice to our residents during these most challenging of times due to the increasing cost of living.
“Following this, I’ve worked closely with officers to present a proposal for members to consider for recommendation to cabinet for inclusion in next year’s budget.
“I am proposing that we introduce a third officer into this team, who will provide a ‘cold buster’ service that will provide energy advice and referrals for private rented households In practice this we will have an officer available who can visit low income homes in the district to install low cost measures such as:
• Power down devices
• Radiator foils
• LED bulbs
• CO alarms
• Draft proofing
• Chimney balloons
• Make adjustments to hot water and heating temperatures
• Demonstrate smart metering
“Officers have advised the cost of providing this service is approximately £35,000 per year and can be fully funded from our existing Better Care Fund allocation.”
The Better Care Fund is an allocation from central government and is used for services including Disabled Facilities Grants.
Thanet council’s housing boss Bob Porter suggested a full report was provided showing how the fund was spent and making sure an allocation for the Cold Buster officer did not impact on any other grant areas, which include occupational therapy officers and a hospital discharge service
However, Cllr Yates said he had been working with officers on the proposal and believed it could be funded without causing an impact on other services.
He added: “We believe the time is now. We are in an incredibly tough energy crisis at the moment. I’ve got residents who are telling me they are paying £400 a month on electricity and gas, on energy, so now is the time to do this.
“If we start it now this scheme could expand as we prove the service.”
Members of the scrutiny group agreed to make the recommendation for Cabinet members to consider at the next meeting on January 26 and discuss whether to include the proposal in the budget measures.
Cabinet members can either approve its inclusion, reject it or defer a decision until a separate report on the Better Care Fund is produced.
Help us to continue bringing you Thanet news with a donation towards our running costs. Donate at https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=YF7BH2EF4UG2N