Bidding to extend life saving initiative

By on 02/10/2012 in Cllr Bedser, News
Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

Birmingham City Council is bidding to build on the success of a groundbreaking initiative that helped the most vulnerable people in the city stay warm and well last winter.

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, is spearheading the bid for £500,000 from the Department of Health to deliver the next phase of the ‘Stay Warm, Stay Well’ programme, which aims to cut the number of preventable winter deaths in Birmingham.

Last winter the 'Stay Warm Stay Well' initiative delivered a range of services to reduce fuel poverty, avoidable winter deaths and admissions to hospital by providing practical advice and assistance to vulnerable people on how to overcome the housing, health and financial risks associated with cold homes.

Key achievements included:

  • 1,440 home visits helping vulnerable individuals and families prepare for winter, achieve better home energy efficiency, reduce fuel bills, maximise income and improve quality of life through home safety and home security checks. This exceeded the target of 1,100 visits.
  • Promoting behaviour change to reduce fuel waste.
  • Raised health awareness.
  • Warm Spaces events held across the city to get vulnerable people out of cold homes and into the warmth.

See Case Studies below

In addition, extra benefits worth £156,577 were identified for 66 households aged over 75 who had not been claiming their full entitlement. For every £1 spent offering advice, £8.28 has been gained for vulnerable households in previously unclaimed benefits.

Cllr Bedser said: “This was a hugely successful initiative last winter, offering practical advice and assistance to help vulnerable people stay warm and safe during cold weather. The aim of the project was to reduce risks of winter deaths and admissions to hospital.

“Now we’re applying for further funding to build on that success and I am delighted to champion such an effective and worthwhile scheme.”

Building on last winter’s success, Birmingham City Council aims to add new elements to the ‘Stay Warm, Stay Well’ initiative, including:

  • Installing minor measures such as draught excluders and radiator foils.
  • Targeting more help at families with young children.
  • Cold weather crisis provision for homeless rough sleepers

Cllr Bedser added: “We know from last winter that these measures can make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable households in the city and, if we can secure funding, I'm sure we can build on last year's success.”

ENDS

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

Stay Warm Stay Well in Birmingham: Case Studies supplied by Energy Advisors

Eamonn
Lives on his own in a council flat and receives benefits. He was very worried about how to keep the flat warm and the cost of gas. Therefore, he had decided to rely on electricity as his main fuel type. This meant that he relied on an electric shower and electric kettle for hot water. Our Green Doctor advised not to rely on electricity for all of his requirements since this meant he was spending about 40% of his income on electricity. He recommended changing his tariff and to begin using gas again. In addition, he was advised that cavity wall insulation would help his situation and he requested money advice.

Mr M
An owner-occupier living alone in a three-storey house. On arrival the energy advisor realised that the resident had no hot water and no heating and had been keeping warm by using an electrical heater. The resident was living in a single glazed property and was in a desperate situation. The energy advisor immediately referred the client to the partnership to have someone come and look at his heating as a priority. Advice was also given around tariffs as the resident has never checked what tariff he is on doesn't know if he has any discounts. As the client only receives pension credit he finds it hard to pay for his energy bills so he has also been referred to the surviving winter scheme. Overall the resident is very happy that he is finally getting help with his heating and he plans to implement advice given during the visit. On top of the energy advice the resident has also been referred to West Midlands Fire Service to receive a home safety check and will be receiving advice from the Police on home security.

Mrs B
Mrs B and her husband are owner occupiers with children under 5. They are currently struggling with their energy bills and don't have enough money coming in to pay for them. The family are currently paying off a £700 Gas pre-payment meter debt. Their electric is paid quarterly and their current bill is now due at £90 and they do not know how they will be paying this. The main worker (husband) has been off work for the last few months for sick reasons so they are currently financially limited and constrained as they are not receiving benefits to help pay for the mortgage. They also advised that they are having ongoing issues with their boiler and find it hard to get it to work. The advisor gave them information around tariffs, and general information on how they can save money and energy around the home. The resident has been referred to surviving winter to help with their energy payments as well as a request for someone to look at their boiler to see if the issue can be resolved. On top of that the household will be receiving money advice from the partnership to seek advice on what benefits they are entitled to.

Mary
Mary is a single mum who lives with her child who has a life limiting illness. This illness means that the house needs to be kept at a consistent temperature; this has led the resident to run up a debt of £2,700. The energy company has continually requested payment and the householder has ignored the demands for payment. She opened up to our advisor and admitted that she was struggling. We spent time with her encouraging her to talk to her energy provider and role playing the phone conversation. On leaving the home we were confident that she would speak to the energy company. On checking with her a week later she had made the call, a stop had been placed on her account and they had offered to work with her to address the situation. The Health Authority has also supported Mary providing information on her sons’ condition which will be passed to the Energy Company.

Mr & Mrs P
Both Mr and Mrs P were already in receipt of Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit. Their pension credit erroneously did not include the correct premiums for people in their position (they should have had severe disability premiums included), and there were no carers benefits in payment (they were entitled to two carers premiums) the extra pension credit awarded including backdating totalled £9,443.30.

Mrs B
Mrs B does not speak English. She was visited by an advisor who could communicate with her in her own language. She was found to be severely disabled and was assisted to claim the highest rate of Attendance totalling £4,027.40. Her granddaughter was assisted to claim carers allowance for looking after her – £3,039.40.

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