Hundreds of households have been removed from fuel poverty thanks to a pilot scheme which took place across the north east.

The Central Heating Fund, a fuel poverty pilot programme which operated in County Durham from January 2016 to March 2017, saw 394 new central heating systems installed across the county, free of charge, to householders who did not previously have such a system.

This included 302 new gas central heating systems, 87 new oil central heating systems and five new air source heat pumps.

County Durham was one of nine north east local authorities to benefit from the fund under the Warm up North partnership with British Gas.

Householders were able to apply for the fund either by contacting Housing Solutions, who co-ordinated the delivery of the project, or by visiting Durham County Council’s website.

Those who qualified then received a home visit to assess their eligibility and work out the best central heating option for them.

Following the completion of the project, feedback has shown that on average householders with new central heating installed reduced their annual energy bills by £300 from £1,419 to £1,116.

Councillor Kevin Shaw, Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “We are very pleased that so many households took up this offer and now have warmer, safer homes in which to live.

“Tackling fuel poverty is one of our key objectives and we will continue to do all we can to ensure people across the county can afford to heat their homes.”