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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 228

Date:- 28 November 2005

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Home Heat Helpline launched in Liverpool

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THIS week the ERA (Energy Retail Association) launches a Home Heat Helpline which will provide invaluable advice and real help to the estimated 180,000 people in the North West likely to suffer unnecessarily from the widely-predicted cold weather this winter.

For the first time, the helpline gives all energy customers who have difficulties with heating their home or paying for their gas and electricity, one free number to call, no matter who their supplier is.

The Home Heat helpline has been set up because as many as 75% of vulnerable customers are not aware of the help available to them. Experienced advisors will be able to do everything from check exactly what financial help is available to arranging loft insulation.
In fact our research has found that these vulnerable customers could be missing out on benefits worth as much as £1,200.

Nicola Bowles from the ERA and Councillor Alan Dean, Mayor of Liverpool marked the North West launch in Liverpool's St John's Shopping Centre.
She said:- "Fuel poverty is an issue we take very seriously and tackling the causes of fuel poverty is a top priority for us, particularly as many of the most vulnerable customers are still unclear about what help is available to them. The Home Heat Helpline set up by the industry is the first helpline dedicated to tackling fuel poverty and to offer a comprehensive, one-stop shop service giving help on the range of problems faced by fuel poor households. I am pleased to be in Liverpool promoting the new Helpline that will provide expert and immediate advice to all those who need it."

Liverpool Mayor, Councillor Alan Dean added:- "The winter launch of the Home Heat Helpline is a very timely one as cold weather conditions are set to reach an all time low. This helpline will provide an invaluable service for people in the North West who may find it hard to keep their homes warm or pay their gas and electricity bills. So I'm urging the elderly and any single parent families to take advantage of this helpline if they are having any problems keeping their homes warm this winter because it is so important to keep homes heated to 18 -21 0 C to avoid cold related illnesses and to stay well during the winter months."

Steve Harding from Gingerbread North West said:- "There are 1,000's of loan parent families in the North West who need support and help with providing sufficiently for their families.
We warmly welcome the launch of the Home Heat Helpline initiative which will help assist lone parents to do just that. The free Home Heat Helpline offers specialist advisors who will be of enormous benefit to many lone parents and will go a long way to ease the worries of the most vulnerable this winter and in the year ahead."


The Helpline will be able to assist vulnerable people in a number of ways, including:-

Identify grants available to make homes more energy efficient
 
Arrange alternative payment methods to suit the caller circumstance

Access a priority service team of specialist advisers
 
Provide links to other support agencies

For more information about Home Heat Helpline please visit: www.homeheathelpline.org

Every lesson counts!

A CRACKDOWN on parents who take children out of school to go Christmas shopping is taking place in Liverpool.  The city council's Truancy Watch team and Merseyside Police are working with neighbouring authority's to catch youngsters who are skipping school with the full consent of parents.

Principal Education Officer, Ron Collinson, said:- "We are keen to get a key message over in the pre-Christmas period when we know parents might otherwise be tempted to take their children out of school shopping.  This year we are also working closely with Sefton, Knowsley and Wirral Council's to deliver joint sweeps in Liverpool city centre, because we know that pupils from those areas often come here at times when they should be in school."

A base has been set up at St Johns Shopping Centre, and management at the centre are working closely with truancy officers in the planning and delivery of sweeps.

Liverpool City Council's executive member for children's services, Councillor Paul Clein, said:- "Attendance levels are improving in Liverpool, but we still have too many youngsters absent from school without permission.  Parents need to realise that any absence disrupts a child's learning and lots of absences seriously affect a child's attainments and ultimately their life opportunities."

Children stopped by the Truancy Watch team have their details checked and they are returned to school or taken home.

Len Griffiths from St Johns Shopping Centre said:- "We co-operate fully with the police and Liverpool City Council to make the city centre a safer and more appealing place for people to visit and shop.  Reducing the number of truants certainly helps us achieve this, as well as ensuring that the children themselves will receive a decent education."

TRUANCY FACTS

The Truancy Watch initiative was set up by Liverpool City Council's education service in 2002 as one of the first dedicated truancy sweep teams in the country.

The team carry out truancy sweeps across Liverpool on each working day of the year and has been hailed as a national model of best practice.

During the 2004/5 academic year, almost 1,700 children were stopped during truancy sweeps across Liverpool.

A wide range of initiatives are in place to maintain high rates of attendance in Liverpool.  They include: radio and poster campaigns, whole school attendance monitoring programmes and confidential telephone lines for members of the public to report pupils who are out of school.

Liverpool is leading a pioneering government scheme to crack down on parents of truants who do not respond to warnings by issuing penalty notices and fines of up to £100. 262 were issued in the 2004/5 academic year, and a further 51 have been served since September. 150   letters are also about to be issued warning parents they could face a penalty notice unless the attendance of their child improves.

Click on for this weeks top property links and deals.   With thanks to Peter Browns of Southport  and Anthony James of Southport.

www.liverpoolreporter.com

www.merseyreporter.com

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