NEA, the UK fuel poverty charity has announced the first projects to be funded under a £26.2 million Health and Innovation Programme, which will bring affordable warmth to over 6000 fuel poor and vulnerable households in England, Wales and Scotland. NEA believes this is the largest nationwide programme designed and delivered by a national charity that puts fuel poverty alleviation at its heart.

The programme is split into three funds, two programmes are being delivered by NEA – a Technical Innovation Fund and a Warm & Healthy Homes Fund, the third is being delivered by NEA’s subsidiary Warm Zones. In Scotland a Healthy Homes Fund is being delivered by Energy Action Scotland (EAS).

The Technical Innovation Fund aims to facilitate community-level trials of solutions using measures not traditionally within the scope of current fuel poverty and retrofit energy efficiency programmes.

One of the first contracts has been agreed with Moat – a registered charitable housing association.

Moat has been awarded £250,000 for the project, which will replace the existing gas fired commercial boilers that serve 56 apartments at Fletchers Close in Bromley with individual Vaillant geoTHERM ground source heat pumps.

The Warm & Healthy Homes Fund is supporting local health and housing partnerships to better address the needs of households at risk of cold-related illness as recommended in the guideline produced by the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE).

The need for programmes that address the health impacts of living in cold homes is clearly demonstrated by the ONS recently publishing the highest number of Excess Winter Deaths across England and Wales this century. A partnership in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire is one of the first to be announced.

Rina Jones, partnership manager, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Local Authorities’ Energy Partnership said: “This funding has provided a fantastic opportunity for the partnership to significantly increase the number of householders we can target for help who are both in fuel poverty and suffer with long term health conditions made worse by a cold home. These residents often spend much of their time at home but are unable to afford to heat their home to a safe temperature or to invest in energy efficiency improvements”.

“With this funding we will be able to install new cost efficient heating systems and insulation for free where other funding streams are not available due to the cost or complexity of the measures required. Together with assistance we are providing to maximise household income, this funding is helping to keep people warm and well and improving their overall wellbeing. At a time of year when the NHS is really stretched we can also see how this funding is helping to reduce the strain on A&E and GP practices in our area.” Rina concluded.

Warm Zones has already installed substantial physical energy efficiency measures in 1,405 homes through their fund and to date 738 households have been provided with energy efficiency and welfare benefit take-up advice.

The programme will run until the end of 2017 and the results will be fully evaluated to demonstrate the impact it has had across the UK.