THOUSANDS of residents experiencing fuel poverty in Monmouthshire could be given greater financial support to keep their homes adequately heated.

Research from the Building Research Establishment show that around 22 per cent of households in the county are struggling with energy costs.

But funds could be made available if Monmouthshire County Council approves plans to tap into a national energy efficiency scheme.

Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding is a requirement placed on energy companies over a certain size to help improve domestic energy performance in the homes of the vulnerable.

The money would cover boiler repairs and installation costs for cavity wall insulation, loft insulation orfirst-time central heating, though funding is only available for owner-occupier and private rented tenant households.

Councils set their own ‘flexible eligibility’ criteria and engage with energy suppliers to identify those who would benefit from energy efficiency upgrades.

Residents with a low income, high heating costs and poor health would be eligible for assistance, according to a report to Monmouthshire council’s adult select committee.

The Home Energy Service has also been established by the authority and local charity, South East Wales Energy Agency, to provides advice and support for those at risk of fuel poverty.

“Monmouthshire County Council is committed to supporting residents vulnerable to fuel poverty and cold homes,” says the report.

“The Home Energy Service acts as a one-stop-shop for all home energy and warmth needs.

“The council see ECO flexible eligibility fitting well within the aims of the service and is happy to support its use to provide additional funding for energy efficiency measures to eligible residents in the county.”

A statement of intent to access funding under the ECO’s Help to Heat programme has been drawn up by the council, with the adult’s select committee due to discuss the proposals on April 30.