More West Oxfordshire households may now be eligible to benefit from the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) scheme after a change in eligibility criteria.

The government-backed grant is designed to aid homes become more cost-effective and energy-efficient.

The second phase of the HUG scheme helps owner-occupiers and private tenants who are living in poorly insulated properties to access free energy-saving measures worth thousands of pounds.

These measures include insulation, solar panels and low carbon heating systems.

These upgrades would result in the reduction of household greenhouse gas emissions while making the homes more affordable and healthier.

Previously, only those households with a combined income below £31,000 could apply for the grant.

However, this cap has been increased to £39,000 due to changes in the grant which is being delivered by Oxfordshire County Council, in partnership with West Oxfordshire District Council and Welcome the Warmth.

Councillor Andrew Prosser, Executive Member for Climate Change at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “With plenty of cold weather ahead many in our district will find themselves struggling once again to meet their energy bills and keep their homes warm.

"Rural properties and those living off-gas are more likely to suffer from fuel poverty, and with the announcement last week that the energy price cap will go up in January, many will be facing greater uncertainty around what they can expect to pay for their bills come the new year.

“Some of the highest carbon heating fuels are oil and coal. Raising the income threshold for the Home Upgrade Grant is very welcome news, supporting more West Oxfordshire households to access the energy saving measures they need while reducing the impact those homes will have on the environment.”

The cost of living for the residents of Oxfordshire, which is generally higher compared to other parts of the country, is accounted for in the increase of the HUG income threshold.

In 2022, 3.26 million homes in England were classified as existing in fuel poverty.

A home generally falls into the fuel poverty category if after fuel and housing expenses, its income is beneath the poverty line and the property has an energy efficiency of band D or lower.

The HUG energy-efficient upgrades are only available for consideration to households residing in homes with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or lower.

However, homes without a current EPC are still eligible to apply and this will be assessed during the application process.

To find out more, visit the Welcome the Warmth website or call 0800 038 6775.