Government fuel poverty scheme to be delivered by handypersons and HIAs

HIAs will help vulnerable people
Published on Monday, 03 December 2012 15:55
Posted by Scott Buckler

Home improvement agencies (HIAs) across England will be able to help vulnerable people stay warm this winter through a new £500k government programme which sees HIA case workers provide one-to-one advice to 4,000 households and funding for small improvements to 1,000 households

The scheme, 'Foundations Warm Homes Service', is financed by the Warm Homes, Healthy People fund, part of the Department of Health's initiative to reduce deaths over the winter.

It will be managed by FILT, the charitable arm of Foundations which represents home improvement agencies in England. FILT is chaired by former housing minister Baroness Kay Andrews.

Delivery will be via the national network of over 170 home improvement agencies – local, trusted organisations across England that help more than 200,000 enquirers  every year who are older, disabled or on low incomes to repair and adapt their homes.

The £500k funding awarded to Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) will be used to train 400 caseworkers and handypersons on how best to advise vulnerable people to avoid fuel poverty and achieve a healthy and warm living environment. This will produce a legacy of fully trained home-visiting advisors who can enhance the health of vulnerable clients.

Over 4,000 vulnerable households will then receive face-to-face advice about how they can improve warmth in their own homes. Information will be tailored to each individual and may include guidance on ways to control use of fuel, assistance on accessing energy efficiency financial support and a benefits entitlement check.

The funding will also be used to pay for small-scale warm home improvements such as boiler repairs, draught-proofing windows or a new gas fire. FILT will award money to HIAs that successfully bid for funding. HIAs will then distribute this funding locally to approximately 1,000 older or disabled, vulnerable individuals.

Former housing minister Baroness Kay Andrews, who is Chair of FILT said: "This is the first time the HIA sector has been directly funded to make a significant contribution to tackling fuel poverty and it's a great opportunity for HIAs to build on the fantastic local work they already do. I'm delighted that the trusting relationship HIA case workers have with thousands of vulnerable people has been recognised as an important tool to help reduce fuel poverty, quickly and effectively."

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