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Warmth on prescription for people in dire need

Some of Islington’s most vulnerable residents are set to be given an extra helping hand to keep their homes warm in winter.

Islington Council has successfully applied for a grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change for the “warmth on prescription” scheme aimed at funding improvements to homes of people referred by social services.

The scheme is aimed at ending the misery facing the borough’s poorest residents who suffer during the winter months and can even die of the cold as the temperature dips below freezing and energy costs continue to soar.

A share of the £164,000 DECC pot will be spent on better insulation and other measures aimed at helping people who cannot afford to heat their homes. A further £100,000 cash injection for the scheme will be supplied by the council and Partners for Improvement, which handles repairs for around 6,500 homes in Islington.

A similar scheme piloted in Sunderland a year ago saw admissions to hospital and GP surgeries by people who had benefited from the extra money dropping by around a third.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “One of our main goals is to reduce the number of people who are suffering because they cannot afford to keep warm in winter. Not only is it a major drain on health services, but these are real people in urgent need. This new funding will help us to tackle the problem head on.

“We were approached to apply for this fund and as a council we are also providing some match funding.

“We are mainly looking at council homes that were built before 1919 and can be significantly improved with things like secondary glazing and insulation.

“We don’t yet know exactly how many homes will benefit given the challenging nature of many of these homes. Part of the money will be spent carrying out survey visits of some of our older homes so that the money can be targeted. This is the only available source of funding for this type of project and we are extremely pleased to have been successful in obtaining it.

“People will be referred to us by the health and social services when they can see that someone with serious health conditions might be in need of help.”

The money will target homes where residents are suffering from fuel poverty with the project set to bolster the council’s award-winning Seasonal Health Intervention Network (SHINE) project.