One in eight homes in Lancaster and Morecambe are in fuel poverty

Fuel poverty link to higher winter deaths
Fuel poverty link to higher winter deaths

Almost 7,000 homes in the Lancaster district are classed as being in fuel poverty - with hundreds of people dying across the county every year due to conditions caused by the cold.

New figures reveal that Lancaster has the second highest rate of fuel poverty in Lancashire.

Some 6,970 households out of a total of 58,846 are classed as “fuel poor”.

In Lancashire there were 460 excess winter deaths in 2013/14 across 12 districts, with conditions known to be affected by the cold accounting for almost three quarters of these.

The Lancashire County Council figures also show that unplanned hospital admissions linked to respiratory conditions have been 20 per cent to 50 per cent higher in winter months.

The county council said it is providing £1m to help those who struggle to afford to heat their homes, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and cut excess winter deaths.

The money, which is part of the council’s Green Energy Fund, will be spent during winter 2016 and winter 2017.

Funding will be targeted at people at greatest risk of their health being affected by having a cold home, including people living with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, mental health conditions, older people, people with disabilities, pregnant women and young children.

Improvements that could be provided with this funding include replacement boilers, heating system repairs, standard loft and cavity wall insulation, and specialised insulation where traditional measures cannot be used.

County Coun David Borrow, deputy leader of the county council, said: “Research tells us that cold homes can severely affect people’s health, particularly if they are elderly, disabled or have a long-term health condition.

“Many of these people live in poorer quality homes and have to face difficult choices, like whether to eat or pay the bill to heat their homes.

“The £1m from the Green Energy Fund will be targeted towards these groups. Help on offer will vary depending on people’s circumstances and where they live. However, it could be used to pay for everything from different types of wall insulation to a new boiler.”

Lancashire County Council will provide the funding to borough and city councils, who will manage the winter warmth activities in their district. The amount available to each district varies depending on the percentage of homes classed as being in ‘fuel poverty’ in each area.

By working closely in this way, the county council, district councils and other groups will identify people at risk of ill health from living in a cold home and provide funding to them.

County Coun Borrow added: “The funding will complement other benefits and schemes. It will help us to ensure people stay well over the winter period.

“We hope this scheme will help reduce winter-related illnesses and hospital admissions in Lancashire.

“It’s an important part of our plans to address one of the causes of health inequalities in our county.”