Liverpool residents struggling to pay their fuel bills are being encouraged to seek advice from the city council’s energy experts.
The city’s Healthy Homes programme has been expanded and is now open to any resident in the city – regardless of whether they own or rent a property – who has difficulty paying their gas or electricity bills, or struggles to heat up their home.
Latest reports show 14.3 per cent of households in the city are living in fuel poverty, which equates to around 30,000 homes – the worst rate in the country. It is estimated poor housing conditions cause up to 500 deaths and 5,000 illnesses requiring medical attention each year.
A team of qualified energy awareness officers are on hand to:
- Give advice on understanding bills and using less energy
- Recommend the installation of LED lighting
- Draft-proof a property
- Help with minor window casement repair
- Organise repair or replacement of a boiler
- Organise to replace radiators
- Look at how residents can switch to a cheaper energy provider
- Check to see residents are receiving all the benefits they are entitled toThe aim of the Healthy Homes team is to reduce health inequalities caused by poor quality housing conditions, and as a result minimise the burden on the NHS. Studies show 27 per cent of people in Liverpool do not have central heating. Homeowner Mr Leach, contacted the team after struggling to heat his house when his boiler of 25 years broke down. The Dovecot resident was frequently in and out of hospital, as his poor health condition was exacerbated by his cold home. As a result of getting in touch with the Health Homes team, he had a new boiler installed. Mr Leach said: “I’m delighted with the works carried out, which meant I was able to leave hospital, which was previous delayed due to the house being so cold. Thank you so much!” Within twelve months the team hopes to achieve the following:
- Prevent up to eight premature deaths when fully implemented
- Reduce GP consultations and hospital admissions by an estimated 100 cases
- Take 200 households out of fuel poverty
- Increase community awareness around necessary housing improvements.
- Increase awareness and access to existing health and wellbeing linked services.
The service is free and can be accessed by calling 0800 012 1754 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Any work carried out following advice from the team can potentially be covered by grants of up to £500 per property.
Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Frank Hont, said: “We know there are huge numbers of people in this city who are on a low income and struggle to pay their fuel bills, and as a result can become poorly, and in worst case scenarios can lose their lives.
“We want to get the message out there that the fully trained Healthy Homes team is on hand to give free advice and support on what measures can be taken to stay warm and healthy.
“As we head towards the summer months, heating may become less of a priority, but we are urging residents to plan ahead and put the measures in place now to make sure by the time winter arrives, improvements have been made, illnesses can be avoided and money can be saved.”