Healthy interest in fuel bill contest

An annual competition in which residents can win money to pay their fuel bills attracted a record number of entrants this year.

The competition, run as part of the Winter Survival campaign, attracted more than 4300 entries – a figure which is seen as demonstrating that the campaign is having an increasing impact.

The competition involved three draws per month over the winter with a prize of  £100 towards gas or electric bills. One of the winners, Mr Geoff Charing, of Garston, said “I was relieved to win. It’s going to ease the pain of putting the heating on during this bad weather. I’m delighted.”

Booklets are sent out with the annual flu vaccination letter to households across the city, and are handed out at road shows where the Healthy Homes team visit pensioners’ luncheon clubs and community centres speak to residents.

Packs containing hats, gloves and scarves are also on offer, with demonstrations of how people even with limited mobility can keep active during cold weather.   

The Winter Survival Campaign highlights the close association between housing conditions and personal health. The annual cost to the NHS of treating winter related disease due to cold private housing is £859 million. In Liverpool alone, every year there are 280 more deaths, on average in the winter months compared with the summer months.

The Healthy Homes team also produce information on how to keep warm and well, with contact details of useful services such as winter fuel payments, energy saving organisations, and how to get your free flu jab.

Dr Paula Grey, Liverpool City Council’s Director of Public Health said “Once again the Winter Survival campaign has shown how important the work of the Healthy Homes team and partner organisations is to reducing the impact of cold weather for many people in Liverpool. 

“Each excess winter death is one too many.  We know that the links between cold homes and poor health means that keeping warm and safe during the winter months does help to reduce the risk of becoming unwell so we encourage residents to make the most of the advice and support available”

Councillor Tim Moore, cabinet member for transport and climate change said: “While we have been fortunate in experiencing a relatively mild winter this year, there are still many homes in Liverpool that are too cold, either through inadequate heating and insulation, or where the occupants struggle to afford their gas or electric bills.

“Having so many entries to the competition not only demonstrates the success of the campaign, but perhaps also reflects the anxiety of paying heating bills.

“The City Council wants to ensure that householders  are receiving all the assistance they are entitled to. Not only could this mean helping to make their houses more energy efficient, but it could also mean helping them find a more cost effective energy tariff and measures they can take to keep warm and well.

“Working with partners including the health service, we are reaching out into the community and are able to provide access to a wide range of services to help minimise the impact of cold housing on health.

“I would also like to remind residents that there is still time to join the energy switching scheme which aims to reduce people’s energy bills by using collective buying power to negotiate cheaper tariffs from energy suppliers.”

• Over 2,500 people have already joined the Merseyside Collective Switch, and the deadline for registering is 10 March. Once registered, householders will receive information about the winning tariffs as well as other tariffs on the market, and they will be able to see how much they could save if they did switch. Householders can join the collective switch by registering online at www.LCRenergyswitch.co.uk  or by calling the local Save Energy Advice Line on Freephone 0800 043 0151.”