Catalyst Mutual is working on increasing awareness of the impact of cold homes on health to combat fuel poverty reduce excess winter deaths.

Fuel poverty is a very real issue within Britain, with at least 2.35 million households reported as suffering from it in 2013*. Fuel poverty is defined by a household’s ability to keep warm at a reasonable cost, considering their annual income.

Catalyst believes that fuel poverty should not be an issue in our modern society, and that no one should be forced to choose whether to heat or eat, and consequently actively strive to take action on cold housing. It’s estimated that health implications associated with cold homes cost the NHS £850 million annually** and contribute significantly to the amount of excess winter deaths within Britain, something that must be changed.

To combat fuel poverty and reduce cold homes, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a guideline for ‘Excess winter deaths and illness and health risks associated with cold home’. The recommendations within the guideline provide a platform for work delivered by Catalyst Mutual.

Below are some examples of how the services we provide meet the NICE guidelines:

Recommendation 5: Make every contact count by assessing the heating needs of people who use primary health and homecare services.

Recommendations 8, 9 &10: Training health and social care practitioners (8), housing professionals (9), and heating and installing engineers (10) to help people whose homes are too cold

–              Through the provision of our Energy Literacy Training courses, frontline workers are equipped with energy knowledge and understanding to identify people whose health may be at risk from living in a cold home.

–              Additionally, we have designed a heating assessment form and referral procedure to allow staff to make every contact count by referring their client to appropriate support.

Recommendation 11: Raise awareness among the public about how to keep warm at home

– Through our outreach events and strong community presence, we consistently inform the public about how to stay warm while reducing their energy bills. We take interactive resources to our events that include home visits, community centre events and pop-up help clinics at local supermarkets.

*statistic from the government 2015 Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report, Department of Energy and Climate Change.

** statistic from the Cold Weather Plan for England, Department of Health.