Cornwall is to benefit from a £8m injection of funds to help vulnerable people heat their homes, pay fuel bills and stay healthy.
The target is to lift thousands of people across Cornwall out of fuel poverty over the next year.
Around 36,000 homes in Cornwall are in fuel poverty, with Cornwall in the top 10 of fuel poor areas in the country. Fuel poverty means that the cost of heating a person’s home is high and significantly impacts on their remaining income.
The Winter Wellbeing Partnership, led by Cornwall Council and including 30 partners, has secured over £3.5m from National Grid’s Warm Homes Fund to work with thousands of people to stay warmer for less and be lifted out of fuel poverty.
The new fund – ‘Warm and Well Cornwall’ – targets residents who are in poor health or at risk of ill health, or with underlying health issues, or caring for a vulnerable person or worried about their home being cold or damp.
Warm and Well Cornwall will help 220 private homes, including owners, landlords or tenants and up to 800 social housing homes with first time central heating, such as renewable heating, mains gas, oil, or LPG, with many more to follow in future years.
Social housing partners Ocean, Coastline, Cornwall Housing, Guinness and DCH are investing around £2.5m to improve heating for their tenants with renewable heating and gas central heating.
Funding has also been secured from SSE Energy Solutions, Cornwall Council’s Energy Efficiency partner. SSE has ring-fenced Energy Company Obligation (ECO) eligible measures targeted at fuel poor and vulnerable households in Cornwall and is a key partner to delivering Warm and Well Cornwall.
By January 2019 the programme is expected to have helped more than 1,000 homes out of fuel poverty, keeping people warm and well.
Private landlords with tenants can also apply for funding to upgrade their properties. From April 2018, private landlords cannot re-let existing rented properties rated EPC F or G, unless they have registered a valid exemption and from 2020 landlords won’t be able to let any (non-exempt) properties if they are rated F or G.
Cornwall Council Deputy Leader Julian German said: “Cornwall Council’s 2017 resident survey found that 15% of people said finding the money to pay for utility bills was a very big or fairly big problem. Fuel poverty is a significant issue for many people in Cornwall – this programme will go a long way to helping these households stay warm and well.
“Part of this funding is also because of our devolution work. New ways of delivering insulation improvements to Cornish homes agreed with the Government means we have more control over the decisions on which homes can receive this support. This will make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of people currently living in cold and damp homes.”
Caroline Court, Interim Director of Wellbeing and Public Health said: “There is a longstanding body of evidence which shows the link between cold homes and poor health. People living in a cold home are at higher risk of lung conditions, heart attack, stroke and mental health problems. A warm home means a healthier home, and that can change lives.”
Sarah Newton, MP for Falmouth and Truro said: ” Living in a warm home is a matter of social justice and this new programme and investment will help more local people.”
Tony Butler, UK Sales Manager for SSE Energy Solutions added “As their Energy Efficiency Partner, SSE Energy Solutions is proud to support Cornwall Council’s Winter Wellbeing Partnership for the third year running. This exceptional group of likeminded entities, comprising 30 partners in total, all strive towards the same common goal to eliminate fuel poverty in Cornwall. Whilst other regions share similar objectives, challenges and financial constraints to those of Cornwall, few benefit from such a well-connected group of champions, who, thanks to their input and the council’s coordination, make this partnership a truly bespoke and innovative arrangement.”
Warm and Well Cornwall is led by the Winter Wellbeing Partnership on behalf of Cornwall Council and funded by the Warm Homes Fund (National Grid/Affordable Warmth Solutions), and social housing providers Ocean, Coastline, Cornwall Housing, Guinness and DCH. Match funding totalling £2m is provided by SSE Energy Solutions from Energy Company Obligation (ECO) monies, Fuel Poverty Network Extension Scheme (FPNES) that extends the gas distribution network through Warm Wales/Wales and West Utilities and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
The Winter Wellbeing advice line is free to call on 0800 954 1956 or information can be found at:www.cornwall.gov.uk/winterwellbeing
To find out more about Warm and Well Cornwall or to check eligibility, please ‘Call Bev’ at Inclusion Cornwall on 01872 326552.
Last year the winter wellbeing programme helped over 1,400 homes with advice and support. Sixty-four hospital admissions were avoided and 254 homes were given emergency support to heat their homes.
Dr Caroline Court, Interim Director for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Public Health said winter wellbeing was a significant problem for many people in Cornwall.
“We have just published our public health annual report which has a strong focus on the connection between warm homes and people’s health.
“Being able to heat a home is not just about keeping warm. Keeping a house warm and dry helps keep away mould which can make illnesses such as asthma worse. Reducing energy costs and debts can help to reduce stress levels and improve mental wellbeing.
“Keeping warm is vital to staying healthy, particularly for those who are more vulnerable to the cold such as the elderly and people with a long-term health condition. For every £1 that we spend with the Winter Wellbeing programme we help to save the NHS £3.15.”
Cllr Sally Hawken, Cabinet member for Wellbeing and Public Health said one of the Council’s top priorities was to help prevent illness and deaths from the cold weather. “The winter wellbeing programme has given help to those who need it for the last six years. From setting your heating temperature correctly through to making sure you are on the right energy tariff to draught proofing your home, there are lots of simple things people can do to stay well and warm.”
Joel Williams Lead member for Children, Council of the Isles of Scilly added “This excellent Winter Wellbeing Programme will provide real support and help to our Island Community as we approach another winter.“Staying warm, together with trying to eat well and taking some exercise when we can, helps us all to stay healthy and active for as long as possible.”
The winter wellbeing guides are available in hard copy at GP surgeries, One Stop Shops, libraries, health centres, dentists, foodbanks, pharmacies and children’s centres or are available to online at www.cornwall.gov.uk/winterwellbeing.