Pilot scheme launched to tackle fuel poverty in Hastings and Bexhill

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A £627,000 ‘healthy homes’ scheme is underway to tackle fuel poverty in six deprived areas of Hastings and Bexhill as part of the East Sussex Better Together programme.

The 18-month pilot will focus on private homes with poor heating, insulation and energy efficiency to reduce health risks to vulnerable children and adults.

Funded by Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to help reduce health inequalities, the pilot has started in Braybrooke, Castle, Central St Leonards, Gensing, Old Hastings, and Bexhill Central communities.

Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director for public health, said: “Poor, unsuitable and ‘hard-to- heat’ housing affects physical and mental health.

“Living in a cold home can exacerbate underlying health issues such as breathing problems, heart conditions or risk of a stroke – and can even be fatal.”

Fuel poverty refers to a household unable to afford an adequate standard of warmth and pay for other energy needs to maintain health and wellbeing.

In East Sussex, nine per cent of households are ‘fuel poor’ compared with 8.3 per cent in the south east.

In Hastings that figure stands at 11.8 per cent and nine per cent in Rother.

The programme will be delivered through East Sussex County Council’s free winter home check service and support Hastings Borough Council’s and Rother District Council’s housing enforcement services.

Dr Susan Rae, a St Leonards GP and the CCG’s lead GP for Healthy Hastings and Rother, said: “Specifically the Healthy Homes programme will provide additional heating and insulation improvements in 148 owner-occupied and privately rented homes at an average cost of £3,250 and support the enforcement of housing standards in 76 privately rented homes.

“We are working with health, social care and other local services to identify and refer vulnerable people on a low income and living in cold homes to the programme.”

The new programme builds on work that has already made it possible for the winter home check service to install new boilers or full heating systems in 102 East Sussex homes, made possible thanks to £325,000 from the Warm and Healthy Homes Fund, administered by National Energy Action.

An extra £58,500 has been awarded to carry out similar work in 18 more East Sussex homes.

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