Wycombe District Council has joined up with eleven local authorities across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire as part of the ‘Better Housing, Better Health‘ campaign to help people whose health is affected by living in cold or damp homes.
The campaign is run with funding from the British Gas Energy Trust and managed by the National Energy Foundation.
The local campaign means people living in Wycombe District can get help with practical energy efficiency improvements and advice which in turn could help to prevent avoidable winter deaths.
People who are living with a cardiovascular disease or respiratory illness are most at risk from the health impacts of cold or damp homes. In 2012-13, 510 people died as a result of cold weather across Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Cold homes cost the NHS in England £1.36 billion every year in hospital and primary care.
During winter last year 2014-2015, there were an estimated 43,900 deaths in England and Wales caused by cold weather – this was the highest number since 1999/2000.
The Government’s latest Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report estimated that in 2013 there were 2.35 million households living in fuel poverty in England.
The ‘Better Housing Better Health‘ scheme aims to reduce local fuel poverty which affects 7.9% of homes in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
One local resident to benefit through the ‘Better Housing Better Health‘ scheme is Mr Payne (pictured above) who has had a new boiler fitted thanks to the scheme.
Running until December 2016, the scheme will offer:
- Grants of up to £2,500 for energy efficiency measures for owner occupied homes where someone has a respiratory illness or cardiovascular disease.
- Help with benefits checks, fuel debt mediation and switching energy tariff or supplier.
This practical help will be available for anyone who is referred to the scheme by a health or social care professional or to anyone who thinks they could be eligible for support from Better Housing Better Health. Anyone can download and complete a referral form from www.nef.org.uk/bhbh and get it signed by a health or social care professional.
The National Energy Foundation is also offering free training to front line health and social care staff through the scheme. This will emphasise the link between cold homes and ill health, show how to identify at-risk patients and explain how to make referrals to the scheme. Interested teams can contact [email protected] to find out more.
Councillor Julia Langley, Wycombe District Council Cabinet Member for Housing said: ‘So far we’ve been lucky and had quite a mild winter but when cold weather hits, it can really take a toll on people who have particular health problems.
We want to turn the heat up on fuel poverty and that’s why we’re supporting Better Housing Better Health. If you, or someone you know, could get help, make sure you take advantage of help which is on offer through the scheme.‘
Project Manager for Better Housing Better Health, Alexandra Steeland, commented: ‘With winter upon us, this is the time of year when anyone living in a cold or damp home with a cardiovascular disease or a respiratory illness is most affected by the weather.
It’s also the time of year when the NHS is at its most stretched. Better Housing, Better Health will help those most affected and aims to lessen the stress on local medical and social services.
Anyone who thinks they might be eligible for support from the scheme can either visit our website and download the referral form or contact our Affordable Warmth Helpline on freephone 0800 107 0044.‘
The local authorities taking part in this project are:
- Aylesbury Vale District Council
- Buckinghamshire County Council
- Cherwell District Council
- Chiltern District Council
- Oxford City Council
- Oxfordshire County Council
- South Bucks District Council
- South Oxfordshire District Council
- Vale of White Horse District Council
- West Oxfordshire District Council
- Wycombe District Council