An irreplaceable service - Paul's blog

I’m sure it won’t come as any surprise to hear that the evaluation of the Warm at Home programme found that a warm home is much better for your health than a cold home. But, there are some interesting findings that should help home improvement agencies to demonstrate their value to local commissioners.

The evaluation has been carried out by Sheffield Hallam University on the £750k programme run by Foundations Independent Living Trust in 2015/16. Working across 183 council areas, 71 HIAs undertook 3,678 home energy assessments and carried out works to 2,647 homes.

Unlike many similar schemes, the criteria for Warm at Home included some of the “just about managing” families that Theresa May has been looking to support recently - some of whom would not have qualified for other funding schemes – and few restrictions on what could be funded. This flexibility was really appreciated by caseworkers:

“Knowledge that there’s money there to just do stuff with. The speed that gives you as a caseworker and you can just get small stuff done.”

“The lady with depression, she had all sorts of problems with the house, but she’s not over 60, not on benefits but we could help her (anyway)”

The benefit of small practical measures also shines through, highlighting the sizeable improvements in wellbeing that can result. A cold home and heating problems can also be very stressful, and clients were relieved to have a trusted local service that can help in a timely way.

Caseworkers are praised for their ingenuity, finding an additional £2.42 for every £1 of funding from Warm at Home, and speed of response. There are numerous examples where the caseworker had been able to intervene quickly and it was likely they had prevented further illness or harm, such as hospital admissions, falls, other accidents and exacerbations of underlying chronic conditions.

The report concludes that HIAs play a unique part in local partnership arrangements and are an essential part of cold weather plans and minimising excess winter deaths – as set out in NICE guidelines. And, for every £1 of the funding distributed to vulnerable households, the Warm at Home programme produced almost £4 of benefits in terms of better health.

So a real pat on the back for the sector and more proof that HIAs offer an irreplaceable service for people living in their own homes.

Download the Warm, Safe and Well report

Download the report summary