Powys home insulation grant scheme launched after fraud inquiry delay

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Man laying loft insulationImage source, Getty Images
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A not-for-profit company will vet applications for free insulation

Free home insulation is on offer to residents of Powys in a new scheme to tackle fuel poverty, following a delay.

The launch of ECO3 in the county has been held up by several months pending an inquiry into claims the previous ECO2 scheme was open to possible fraud.

More than 2,000 homes got free boilers or insulation, but auditors found one-fifth of claimants in a sample of 100 were not poor enough to qualify.

Not-for-profit company Warm Wales will be vetting applicants for ECO3.

Major energy suppliers are required by the UK government to fund the ECO schemes across the nation to promote energy efficiency.

ECO2, which ran during 2018, was investigated by Powys County Council following claims by a group of plumbers that people earning more than the £21,000 threshold to qualify had been getting free boilers or insulation.

Council auditors did not find any proof of fraud, but recommended more stringent checks in future schemes.

A report to councillors said ECO3 - which runs until the end of March 2022 and will focus on insulation - could raise an estimated £340,000 for the authority, which will run the scheme on behalf of the UK government.

Powys will charge the scheme £150 for each claim processed, giving Warm Wales £60, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Officers said ECO2 had generated £231,000 for Powys, but added that the council had missed out on another £270,000 in fees for applications still outstanding by the time the scheme ended.

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