Cost of living: Three tips to save money on energy bills
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The scheme is currently being piloted in Gloucestershire, Aberdeenshire and Tees Valley and it’s hoped it will save the NHS money by preventing people from being admitted to hospital. GPs and NHS officials will contact patients who suffer from respiratory conditions to offer to pay their energy bills so they don’t become ill after getting too cold.
More than 1,000 people will get their heating on prescription in an effort to reduce their need to go to doctors surgeries and hospitals this winter.
The cold weather is estimated to cost the NHS £860million a year and is thought to be behind 10,000 deaths every year.
Michelle Davies, 28, said she has been part of the scheme and says it could change people’s lives.
She explained: “When the weather turns cold, I tend to seize up. If everyone was able to have this experience I had, it could really change people’s lives.”
Stuart Brennan from Energy Systems Catapult, the company that is running the pilot, said it will cost the NHS – and the taxpayer – a lot less to heat people’s homes than it would to look after them in hospital.
He said: “The whole point of the scale-up this winter is to determine whether it is more cost-effective to keep people out of hospital, and if it’s cheaper, it’s a bit of a no-brainer.
“If people are warm at home they are not dying in hospital and it is costing the taxpayer less,” he told The Telegraph. “That is what we are trying to prove this winter.
“We are hoping that by the end of this winter we should be able to determine whether it is a cost-effective approach and whether we should expand to more areas.”
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It’s not the first year that the NHS has done this – the initiative was first piloted by Gloucestershire NHS last winter when they covered the energy bills at 28 people’s homes.
Professor David Strain, the chair of the British Medical Association’s board of science, said these illnesses are preventable.
He said: “This trial is a targeted attempt to help some at-risk patients, but in the long term politicians must address the poor quality of UK housing stock, the levels of poverty both in and out of work that prevent people from heating their homes, and cuts to housing services that make the economically vulnerable more vulnerable still.
“There needs to be long-term commitment to invest in the population’s health to stop us getting sicker.”
While not everyone will be invited to take part in the trial, millions of Britons should get a Cold Weather Payment of a Winter Fuel Payment this year.
The DWP has confirmed Winter Fuel Payment and Pensioner Cost of Living Payments will start to land in pensioners’ bank accounts from today, November 23.
Some 11.6 million pensioners will receive up to £600 to help pay their energy bills during November and December.
While the money will start to be paid from today, it could take a few weeks for all payments to be made but everyone who is eligible should receive the money by January 13, 2023 at the latest.
As the cold weather draws nearer, many people are vowing not to put the heating on but there is help available.
Cold Weather Payments of £25 are made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to people on certain benefits every time the temperature drops, or is predicted to fall, below zero for seven consecutive days.
The Cold Weather Payment scheme runs from November 1 to March 31 every year and pays those on means-tested benefits £25 for every week of extreme cold weather in their local area.
In addition, Winter Fuel Payments between £100 and £300 are also made to pensioner households during the winter. Britons under 80 years old should get £200 while those over 80 will receive a payment of £300.
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