I re-activated my Warm Front grant in Autumn 2010. It had been on hold while we waited for our landlord to invest in new windows Once he’d started compensating us for heat loss due to drafty windows and it was also apparent that we were staying put for a while ratther than moving, I phoned and re-activated my application to get free insulation work done on the house.
After I was re-assessed (or rather the house was) they can to the same conclusions as last time – loft insulation top up, cavity wall insulation, new jacket for water tank – but with the addition of cutting a new loft hatch in part of the house where to assessor thought wasn’t accesible from the main loft space. Although he didn’t actually go into the loft as his ladders weren’t long enough (not very professional although he was very friendly and informative about the process).
I’ve been waiting around 4 months (maybe longer I forget the dates) to get an installer assigned to do the work. Today I got a letter from my newly assigned installer telling me they’ll come “to assess and where possible complete this installation” on 30th March 2011. Except the letter also states that work must be completed by 27th March for me to qualify for the work. Huh? **update below
I phoned Warm Front, who are less friendly than they used to, to ask what that 27th March date meant. Was it a deadline for the installer or some kind of deadline (previously unknown) to my grant eligibility? I was told that all work for current outstanding applications must be completed by end of March or else the money would be gone. If I couldn’t get the work completed by end of March I would have to re-apply when (if?) they re-open for applications sometime (unconfirmed) after April 2011. There’s some talk that the criteria will change next time so I don’t even know if I would qualify next time around.
It’s rather unsatisfactory to have enquired about progress of the work in January to be told it was awaiting assignment and there was a backlog then to discover a time limit for the work which they never informed me of. Even their web site is woolly about it. It says applications are not being accepted and that,
“All existing applications to Warm Front will be honoured and, as far as possible, works will be completed by the end of March 2011.”
But it doesn’t state that if the work isn’t completed that’s the end of your grant and window of opportunity. Being up front would have helped me not have to ring them up and get the advisor who must be sick of telling people the same thing and fielding complaints about not having work allocated and running out of time.
Something that really irritated me about the process though is my letter tells me to “please ensure that loft spaces are clear of personal belongings, debris and any boarding prior to our arrival”. I’m presuming like so many things now if it isn’t clear they won’t install in that part of the loft. But I’m getting this help because I qualify on the basis that I can’t take care of myself – I can’t bathe myself or go out of the house on my own let alone go up in the loft or shunt things around!
These Government assistance schemes don’t really go as far as they need to or join up the thinking. I got a letter last week about getting subsidised assistance to switch my tv to digital and am tempted to get a freesat box as they will install the dish and box for a very reasonable amount. But what the scheme doesn’t do is tell you if you need, or help you to get if needed, planning permission for the dish. They think if I struggle to negotiate switching my tv to digital that I’ll be perfectly fine applying for planning permission? Hmmm.
As for the insulation work I’m going to have to ask Growler to ring them and see a) if the work is carried out on 30th March when the letter says it must be done by 27th if we’ll get a bill for the work and b) if they could come earlier because if they assess and can’t do it on the 30th March it won’t get done at all. My ME/CFS brain can’t cope with that conversation plus he’ll know days he might be able to make himself available as they want to arrive between 8-9am and take 4 hours to do the work and they need access inside and out. So a bit much for me on my own.
I imagine there’s going to be a lot of people who have been waiting a long time for they’re heating and insulation work (heating particularly was being quoted a long waiting list) and who are going to be furious to discover their grant has been cancelled because the scheme couldn’t get the work scheduled in time. And Warm Front must be pretty unhappy that their budget got squeezed so much they had to stop accepting applications and ended up in this situation stuck between installers who want to get cash and clients who want to get warm homes.
I just hope my home gets to have the insulation work done in time.
**UPDATE: So hubbie spoke to the installer and the 27th March was a typo on the letter. Phew! Also she says there is a bit of wiggle room to get work done. Double phew!