Flintshire County Council is a local authority delivering a range of services and activities for the residents and communities of Flintshire.
The Council’s Domestic Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP) team has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the various funding streams available to assist households in fuel poverty, on low income or vulnerable to the effects of a cold home. In many cases however these funding sources will only pay a contribution towards the cost of a new boiler and the shortfall needs to be met by the householder. This presents a challenge to some residents who due to their low household income are unable to make a private contribution and thus are faced living in cold homes which are detrimental to their health and wellbeing or are reliant on alternative forms of heating, such as electric heaters, which are costly and energy inefficient. Previously the County Council and the North Wales Energy Advice Centre had operated a crisis fund to support these vulnerable residents, but despite the demand and the need for such a fund, as a result of local authority budget cuts and the growing pressure on other service areas, this funding pot came to an end in August 2018.
Flintshire County Council's DEEP team regularly receives enquiries from Flintshire residents who are seeking support to assist them with repairing or replacing their inefficient or broken heating system. On average 600 number of enquiries of this nature are made per annum. A comprehensive appraisal process is undertaken that assesses household income, the characteristics and energy rating of the property and the medical conditions and age composition of the household to identify those that are the most vulnerable and the most in need of support.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) 2015 guidance regarding ‘Excess winter deaths and illness and the health risks associated with cold homes’ states that: ‘a wide range of people are vulnerable to the cold’. The Council was keen to be able to support households where people with the characteristics which reflect the NICE guidance on excess winter deaths and illness caused by cold homes by offering support to repair/replace heating systems.
How we helped
In December 2018, Flintshire County Council was awarded a grant of £10,000 from the Welsh Procurement Alliance in partnership with Community Foundation Wales to provide a 'crisis fund' to address fuel poverty to vulnerable households across the county.
Making a difference
During the winter of 2018/19, with the grant funding available, Flintshire County Council repaired or replaced 12 broken household boilers. Funding helped alleviate problems and difficulties facing 19 vulnerable residents who were experiencing fuel poverty and significant health issues. It provided more energy efficient measures and made a significant improvement to people’s quality of life.
The grant, used in-conjunction with other sources of funding, has helped address issues and difficulties experienced by some vulnerable residents in Flintshire.
- An elderly gentleman who was hard of hearing had recently suffered a stroke. His boiler had broken down and he was left without any heating during a particularly cold spell. The grant enabled the installation of a replacement gas boiler. The gentleman is now less anxious, is making a good and steady recovery and now feels warm and safe within his home.
- A family with a child who was suffering from terminal leukaemia needed a constantly supply of heating. Their oil boiler broke and was condemned. The grant replaced the gas boiler linked to an oil system. The grant enabled the family to spend quality time in a comfortable, warm environment and helped to create some lasting memories of happy times spent together.
- An elderly gentleman whose wife had sadly just died, was suffering from anxiety and depression. His boiler broke causing him further distress during an already difficult time. The installation of a new boiler has reduced the financial burden he was under, he now knows that there are people able and willing to help him when he is feeling low.