It may be measured in baby steps, but at last the Department of Health (DH) is acknowledging the importance of cold homes, and living in fuel poverty, to the health debate.
Age UK’s lobbying and campaigning on fuel poverty issues is strongly grounded on the health implications – the ill-health arising from not keeping adequately warm, measured both in terms of human suffering and costs to the NHS – so this engagement by the DH is a significant advance. Two short reports from Age UK have looked at recent public health initiatives to assess their impact.
One is concerned with the Warm Homes Healthy People programme. This was announced as a ‘one-off’ in 2011, then repeated in 2012.
It was a £20m prize pot to which local authorities were invited to bid, provided their proposals were to address ‘winter pressures’, and provided they were doing so in partnership with the local voluntary and community groups.
It stimulated a remarkable range of varied activities, from clearing snow and going shopping in adverse weather, to providing hot meals and issuing ‘winter survival packs’, to checking electric blankets and checking benefit entitlements.
It drove a wave of local, community activity, and local Age UK partners were substantially involved. This report looks at their experience of the project, and it is overwhelmingly supportive. Continue reading “Cold homes, fuel poverty and healthy lives”