Calderdale’s health improvement service is supporting the launch of a new plan to keep people warm and healthy throughout the cold winter months.
The cross Government initiative reminds all communities and the NHS how best to prepare to keep people healthy and warm in their homes this winter.
The schemes aims to help the most vulnerable people by making an extra £10 million available to support existing Government schemes for those at risk of fuel poverty – for example grants for insulation or heating improvements provided through the Warm Front scheme.
A further £20 million fund is being used to support Age UK local authorities and charities to address cold housing. Bids will be invited for innovative new ways to help vulnerable older people, people with disabilities or families with young children – reaching those falling through the gaps of existing schemes.
As well as improving insulation a Cold Weather Plan will be launched as part of the initiative, jointly run with the Met Office and Health Protection Agency. This information service will be used to advise people how to stay healthy thus relieving the pressures on the NHS which winter always brings.
In Calderdale alone each year over 100 people die from cold related conditions and many more are admitted to hospital. It is estimated that over £850 million is spent by the NHS each year as a result of the impact of cold housing on people’s health. In Calderdale, research by Chartered Institute of Environmental Health suggests that the annual cost to the NHS for dealing with cold related illnesses, conditions and accident is over for £4.5m per year for the over 65s.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said, “Being cold in your own home can be miserable and impacts on your health. We can not look at health in isolation. We must look at the bigger picture, which is why I am making £30 million available to help keep homes warm. Every year, there is a 20% increase in deaths in the winter in England. By working together, this plan will help protect those most in need.”
Judy Stewart, a health improvement specialist in Calderdale, added, “Keeping warm in the winter is important to avoid serious or life-threatening illnesses. Few people choose to live in cold damp homes but they can not afford to heat them well enough to maintain their health. With the higher fuel prices these days, it isn’t always an easy decision to just leave the heating on for that bit longer. It is great to see this initiative is looking at ways of addressing fuel poverty and protecting those most vulnerable to the cold."
In Calderdale one of the best sources for advice is the Council. Help and advice on how to keep your home warm at an affordable cost is available along with details of the free and discounted energy efficiency and insulation schemes for all private owners. For details please contact the Housing Energy Action Team on 0845 245 6000 or email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Information and advice on “Getting Ready for Winter” is also available on the DirectGov website www.direct.gov.uk/getreadyforwinter