THE recent cold weather has shown a working and efficient central heating system is a must.

But Oldham Council estimates that around 1,500 households in the borough have no centgral central heating and are instead relying on expensive-to-run storage heaters and room heaters which don’t provide enough warmth.

The local authority now says there is an opportunity to get one for free thanks to the Greater Manchester Warm Homes Fund.

Dozens of Oldham residents have already been in touch and have had a fully-funded “first-time” central heating system installed, says the council.

However, the installations are on a first come, first served basis and once the money runs out the scheme will close to new applicants. So the local authority is advising people not to delay and get in touch with us as soon as possible.

Among those who have already benefited from the scheme is Christine Knowles, of Royton.

She said: “My house was very expensive to heat using electric storage heaters, which were cold by early evening.

“I could not afford to have gas central heating installed myself.

“The new system keeps my house much warmer and it’s really easy to control. I would really recommend the scheme to other people who have expensive electric heating.”

The Greater Manchester Warm Homes Fund aims to provide a helping hand to low income and vulnerable households that struggle to stay warm during the winter months.

It is open to owner occupiers and private tenants who meet certain conditions based on income, health or other personal circumstances.

The £1.8 million funding for the scheme has been secured by GMCA and the local authorities from the nationwide Warm Homes Fund established by National Grid and administered by Affordable Warmth Solutions.

This central heating funding complements Warm Homes Oldham - funded by Oldham Council, Oldham Housing Investment Partnership and Oldham NHS CCG – which offers grants for insulation, boilers, energy advice support, income maximisation, energy switching and the fitting of small energy devices.

Cllr Hannah Roberts, cabinet member for housing, said: “Sadly people are still living in fuel poverty* but we are doing our bit to help, through the Warm Homes Oldham scheme.

“Since it started we’ve supported more than 5,700 people – and we want to help even more.

“It’s not right that in this day and age people are getting into debt or falling ill because they can’t afford to heat their homes properly.

“If you know anyone that would benefit, or anyone that works with households who struggle to heat their homes, please let them know.”

The first step for Oldham households is to get in touch with Warm Homes Oldham to check their eligibility by calling 0800 019 1084. For more information see