HIA sector at the heart of NICE cold homes guidance

On 5 March NICE issued new guidance on how to reduce deaths and illness caused by cold homes.

Aimed at commissioners and service providers, the guideline presents a major opportunity for the home improvement agency sector and its charitable arm, FILT (Foundations Independent Living Trust).

It also ties in with the Department of Energy & Climate Change’s newly published fuel poverty strategy, Cutting the cost of keeping warm: a fuel poverty strategy for England and the NHS Five Year Forward View, a vision for the NHS which places strong emphasis on disease prevention and service integration in the future.

How HIAs can deliver NICE recommendations

Back in 2014, Foundations, the national body for home improvement agencies, co-ordinated the sector’s contribution to the NICE consultation on excess winter deaths and illness.

So we’re especially pleased to see home improvement agencies referred to explicitly throughout the new guidance.

NICE outlines the vital role that HIAs can play in two key recommendations:

– Creating a single-point-of-contact referral system so that staff in contact with vulnerable people have a quick and easy way to get help from national and local service providers. “These are likely to include home improvement agencies.” (Page 8)

– Providing access to tailored services that address common barriers to tackling cold homes. “For example, access to home improvement agencies that can fix a leaking roof.” (Page 10)

How FILT can deliver NICE recommendations

Our charitable arm FILT can also provide access to tailored solutions for people living in cold homes. FILT is already working at national level with energy providers and energy charities, distributing small grants to HIAs that help home owners (many on low incomes or with health problems) to cover heating repairs and insulation. Applications are turned around quickly, within less than 24 hours on average, so vulnerable people don’t have to wait long.

How Foundations can help the sector

Foundations is passionate about building capacity amongst HIAs and also within their charity, FILT, to ensure the sector is better placed and more resilient to protect more vulnerable people by responding quickly where appropriate.

Foundations is on hand to provide analysis and advice to home improvement agencies wishing to frame a response to their local health and wellbeing board around this NICE guideline. Please refer to our Housing, Health and Care Integration Toolkit or contact the team on 0845 864 5210 info@foundations.uk.com for support.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Foundations or FILT teams to find out more about our services and how we are helping to tackle deaths and illnesses caused by cold homes.


New programme will help thousands of vulnerable people living in cold homes

SSE has awarded FILT £850,000 in funding to improve the homes of vulnerable people through to March 2016.

The Warm at Home programme will reach 4,500 vulnerable householders and carry out 2,200 warm homes jobs needed to keep people safe and warm.

By repairing boilers, draught proofing and improving heating efficiency, Warm at Home aims to make a real difference for people who might otherwise have nowhere to turn.

Work on the ground will be delivered by 32 Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) operating across 133 local authority areas, from Carlisle to Kent and from Somerset to Suffolk. HIAs are local organisations placed in a unique position to identify, reach and provide solutions for at-risk people, who are often on low incomes and facing the challenges of living in cold homes – worsening health, risk of injury and social isolation. The agencies will work collaboratively at local level with other organisations – not only energy efficiency and fuel poverty networks but also wider health and care organisations.

FILT has engaged the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University to undertake a study into the impacts of the Warm At Home service, looking at how far it has a positive effect  –  not only by keeping vulnerable people warm but also by preventing hazards and worsening health.

Stephen Burke, Chair of FILT said: “We are delighted to start this new partnership with SSE, which will ensure much-needed help reaches vulnerable and older people who might otherwise be at risk in their own homes.”

FILT already works with two other major energy companies and a national energy charity and has a growing reputation for helping partners to reach those most in need on a national scale via its network of local HIAs.

These programmes of assistance build on the success the charity had with a national programme backed financially by the Department of Health during the cold winter of 2012/13.

The results so far show that this outreach model is working. Over the past two years, FILT has helped more than 7,000 older and vulnerable people by distributing over £1m in charitable funds for works ranging from boiler repairs to home energy assessments and electrical safety measures.