Residents in Oxford concerned about keeping warm in their homes this winter are being encouraged to contact the free helpline for advice.
The helpline, which is operated by the Better Housing Better Health (BHBH) scheme, provides any Oxford resident with a single point of contact for services, advice and grants in order to stay warm and well in their homes.
The free ‘Better Housing Better Health’ helpline, 0800 107 0044, which residents can ring for guidance on how to stay warm, is open Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.
The scheme has been launched by the National Energy Foundation (NEF), working on behalf of Oxford City Council and the five other local authorities across Oxfordshire
Fuel poverty, is primarily caused by low household income, poor energy efficiency of the home, and high energy prices, and impacted 11% of households in England, and 12.8% of households in Oxford in 2015.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines highlights the link between living in cold homes and excess winter deaths. According to these guidelines, for individuals living in the coldest 10% of homes, the death rate rises around 2.8% for every degree Celsius drop in the external temperature. This is compared with a 0.9% rise in deaths for those in the warmest 10% of homes.
Last year, across the UK there were 24,300 excess winter deaths, 15% higher than deaths occurring in non-winter months according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.
Those at greater risk of the impacts of cold homes include those who are:
- Aged over 60
- Children under 5 and pregnant mothers
- Living with respiratory disease (COPD, asthma)
- On a low income
- Suffer from cardiovascular disease (Ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease)
- Suffer from moderate to severe mental illness
- Terminally ill
- Have limited mobility
- Have severe learning difficulties
- In long-term debt
There are no eligibility requirements for residents wanting to access the service. Any resident who is looking for free advice on how to keep warm is encouraged to call the helpline.
Oxford City Council is strongly encouraging third parties, including front line healthcare and medical professionals to use this helpline to support those at risk in Oxford. With consent, officials are able to refer those individuals they are concerned about through the helpline.
Residents who call the helpline will have their needs assessed over the phone and, where eligible, can be referred to:
- Expert Energy Advice
- LEAP Home Energy Visit and associated services such as small repairs
- Energy bill discounts
- Grants and funding
- Income maximisation
- Other Council services and more
Councillor Marie Tidball, Board Member for Young People, Schools and Public Health said:
“Nobody should be spending their time in cold homes this winter. I'm especially worried about the impact cold homes has on people with disabilities, cardiovascular and mental health problems, older people, pregnant women and households with young children. We need everyone in Oxford to be aware of the Better Housing Better Health helpline and contact it if they or anyone they know can benefit from its services. It is important to prevent deaths and illnesses in Oxfordshire that result from people unable to heat their homes properly.
If you feel like someone may be risk, please call Better Housing Better Health. Oxford City Council is pleased to support this helpline as part of our commitment to tackling health inequality."
Dr Amar Latif, General Practitioner in West Oxfordshire and Clinical Lead for Long Term Conditions, including respiratory medicine at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “As winter progresses, I am increasingly seeing individuals coming in with health concerns linking to being in cold homes. The health problems which arise from these conditions can impact someone up to two weeks after the cold period has ended. The Better Housing Better Health scheme provides a useful service through the one stop helpline to both residents and health officials.
I recently saw a patient who was in a cold and hard to heat home. At the time I was not aware of Better Housing Better Health and their services, however I will be going back to the patient, and with their permission referring them onto the scheme.”
For more information about Better Housing, Better Health, please visit www.oxford.gov.uk/betterhousingbetterhealth.
Residents wanting to check if they are eligible through a phone assessment, please call Better Housing Better Health on 0800 107 0044.