LANCASHIRE County Council is providing half a million pounds to help warm up the county’s coldest homes this winter.
Last winter, emergency hospital admissions due to respiratory illness rose by nearly 25% compared with other times of the year, and research shows there is a link between these illnesses and living in cold conditions.
Many deaths and hospital admissions can be prevented by ensuring people who suffer from illnesses made worse by the cold can heat their homes.
The £500,000 provided by the county council, called the Affordable Warmth Fund, will help these people stay well over the winter by providing measures such as boiler servicing and repair, alongside fuel debt advice and extra heaters.
County Councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We’ve provided almost £1m this winter and last to keep people warm who need it most.
“There is a significant increase in winter deaths each year between December and March compared with other times of year, so we must do all we can to keep people healthy.
“For some people, it’s a stark choice between heating their home or eating.
“We’ve given this funding to each of our city or borough councils to provide measures that will help prevent people becoming ill and have the potential to save lives.
“If you’re struggling to heat your home and have an underlying health condition, are elderly, or have young children, contact your district council for support.”
City and borough councils will use guidelines set out by Lancashire County Council to decide what help should be provided in their areas.
Help will be offered to people who are more likely to become ill because of their age or due to underlying health conditions. It will also be offered to people on very low incomes or with high heating costs who can’t afford to heat their homes.
County Councillor Ali added: “We’re working with our partners to make sure that help is provided to people who need it most.
“We’ve trained front-line staff who help or care for people to identify those who are at risk of becoming ill and refer them to their local borough or city council for help.”
The Affordable Warmth Fund is just one way Lancashire County Council is helping people to prepare for winter. For more winter information and advice, visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/winter.