Council steps in to bolster winter support
Cold weather support for people in Leeds has been given a helping hand as Leeds City Council teams up with local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to fill a funding gap in winter warmth provision.
The council’s Public Health team have made £200,000 available to enable the council to deliver crucial services to make the cold months ahead less of a threat to those most at risk. The funding package will ensure that the council is able to deliver a range of practical help and support to vulnerable people to help them stay warm and healthy in their homes his winter.
Last winter Leeds accessed £199,067 of funding from the Department of Health’s Warm Homes Healthy People Fund to provide similar services. The Department of Health have this year removed this funding and have instead told local authorities that they need to fund this area themselves, despite facing unprecedented budget pressures.
With winter now underway, the city has prioritised this work locally, identifying funding from the local Public Health budget and supplemented with additional money through Leeds CCGs.
The funding package will help existing winter warmth programmes provided by Care & Repair Leeds, Groundwork Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation and CAB, delivering emergency heating repairs, household energy efficiency measures and advice, and detailed advice on dealing with fuel bills and eligibility for any financial help.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Executive Board Member for Health and Wellbeing, said
“Local services play a vital role in supporting people most in need to be safe and healthy in cold weather, from gritting roads to offering free or discounted boiler upgrades, loft and cavity wall insulation and external wall insulation.
“We know that the support the city put in place last year made a big difference to many people and it is really important that we continue to deliver these services. This job has been made much harder with the government cutting the Warm Homes Healthy People funding just before the cold weather hits. It has put us in a situation where at a time of unprecedented pressures on health and social care budgets we have had find funding to fill this service gap.
“However, thanks to working closely with our partners in the CCGs, we have been able to provide this vital package of services to keep vulnerable people safe in their homes this winter.”
Director of Public Health for Leeds, Dr Ian Cameron, said:
“We know that cold has a significant impact on health and the extreme weather last winter really showed this. That is why I believe it is crucial for Public Health to play a key role in helping promote effective ways to deal with the problems cold weather causes and play our part in keeping people in Leeds healthy and safe over the coming months.”
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Notes to Editor:
The new funding package will be broken down as follows:
• £50,000 to Care & Repair Leeds (Warm Homes Service)
• £50,000 to Groundwork Leeds (Green Doctor Service)
• £50,000 to Leeds Community Foundation (Community Grants Fund)
• £20,000 to (Chapeltown) Citizens Advice Bureau
In addition, £30,000 will be available for cold weather preparedness and as a contingency fund should any of the above projects experience a higher than expected demand.
Direct effects of winter weather include an increase in incidence of: heart attack, stroke, respiratory disease, influenza, falls and injuries and hypothermia. This is why people with underlying health problems, the elderly and frail are at greater risk. Indirect effects of cold include mental health illnesses such as depression, and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if boilers, cooking and heating appliances are poorly maintained, poorly ventilated or not used properly.
Circulatory system diseases such as heart attacks and strokes account for 40% of excess winter deaths. Around one third of excess winter deaths are due to respiratory illness.
Information on how to stay well is on NHS Choices, the Get Ready for Winter websites, Keep Warm, Keep Well booklet and the Cold Weather Plan for England. If you are worried about your health or that of somebody you know, ring NHS 111, or in an emergency, dial 999.
PHE has a number of key initiatives to protect and improve the health of people, especially the most vulnerable. These are summarised in the Cold Weather Plan for England, and the ‘Keep Warm, Keep Well’ booklet. They both set out a series of cost effective and simple measures people can take to reduce the harm to health caused by cold weather.
The Cold Weather Plan for England aims to avoid preventable deaths in winter by setting out a series of actions for organisations, communities and individuals, to take throughout the year. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cold-weather-plan-for-england-2013)
The ‘Keep Warm, Keep Well’ booklet provides advice on staying warm and healthy aimed at the over 60s, low-income families, and people with a disability. (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/254859/Keep_Warm_Keep_Well_2013_WEB_FINAL.pdf)