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Northern counties unite to create jobs and improve energy efficiency

Famed anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” – and representatives from a group of local authorities in the north of England are aiming to prove just that.

The collective of local authorities – including Durham County Council, Newcastle City Council, Darlington Borough Council, Northumberland County Council, Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council – are aiming to create construction jobs for hundreds of skilled tradesmen in the region while bringing the energy efficiency of homes in the north into the twenty-first century.

The partnership – known as Warm Up North – has been formed as part of the national Green Deal Programme, and will see the installing of roof installation, wall cladding and the replacement of ageing and inefficient heating systems.

The initiative will provide hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships for local plumbers, gas fitters, joiners, bricklayers and other skilled tradesmen, for years to come.

Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development – and one of the leading public figures responsible for advancing the scheme – said that householders will benefit from warmer homes that are cheaper to heat, while the local economy will benefit from the job creation.

“The scheme will also result in lower carbon emissions and help to reduce the levels of fuel poverty and the impact this can have on people’s health,” he explained. “In addition it will bring economic benefits by safeguarding and creating jobs and training opportunities in the region.”

The scheme runs on the ‘golden rule’ that the cost of carrying out the work must not exceed the savings it will generate and, once the work is completed, the homeowners can pay back the cost of the work through their electricity bill.

The work can only be carried out by accredited Green Deal installers and workmen, which will serve to raise the overall skill set of construction industry professionals in the north.