With more than one million rural homes in the UK using oil for their heating, heating oil trade association, The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS), this winter is launching the Cold Weather Priority (CWP) and vulnerable persons protocol for the off-grid sector to reduce ‘excess winter deaths' throughout the winter months.
According to The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), each year in the UK, there are 40,000 so-called ‘excess winter deaths' as a result of cold. 82.5% of these are among the elderly (aged 75 and over).
The CWP initiative will assist in identifying and help those most at risk so they are prioritised for delivery when it comes to off-grid fuel supplies throughout the winter months, especially during periods of extreme cold weather or fuel shortages.
With support for the initiative from Energy Minister, Richard Harrington said: "Extreme and cold weather conditions can create severe problems in the winter months for those that use oil to heat their homes. This initiative ensures that those in particular need are prioritised for delivery of fuel. This is a welcome move by the industry which will provide security, comfort and peace of mind to thousands of people across the country in vulnerable circumstances."
FPS Spokesperson Dawn Shakespeare said: "Too many old, weak and vulnerable people die as a result fuel poverty and poor access to supplies during the winter. Fortunately, according to independent provider of comparative home heating costs, Sutherland Tables, at an annual cost of £840, oil is still the cheapest way to heat a typical off-grid three-bedroom home in the UK. That's more than half the cost of electricity and even less than gas and good news for our most vulnerable customers. But it's just as important for customers to know that there is help available when it comes to getting their fuel when they need it most."
Dawn adds: "FPS members will be employing various methods to identify customers who they believe fall into the ‘CWP' category, so that deliveries can be prioritised to these people during the winter months. The FPS is also urging customers who are aged over 75 to get in touch with their heating oil supplier if they believe they should be part of the CWP initiative. The FPS and many of our members are also working with the Chief Fire Officers' Association (CFOA) and the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) and asking customers in the CWP scheme if we can pass their details to Fire & Rescue services, so we can enable 'Safe and Well' visits to be arranged for them.
“Thankfully, situations where supplies of fuel are short and the cold is extreme are rare. However, the initiatives like the CWP enables fuel suppliers to take a pro-active view of customers who could possibly be at risk, ensuring that getting heating oil supplies through to them is a priority."