‘Heat Hero’ tells of tidings of yuletide suffering, cash help and scams…

Ray Harrington-Vail of The Footprint Trust’s Eat & Heat project was recently given the accolade of Heat Hero at a presentation at the House of Commons. He is recognised by National Energy Action as being one of the countries leaders when it comes to helping those in fuel poverty.

“The news that some 25% of Isle of Wight children are living in poverty and that around 4%, of the Island adult population are unemployed has meant a worrying Christmas for many younger people. …”

Said Ray

“18% of Island homes are in fuel poverty –the highest in the Southeast, which means that they spend more than 10% of their income on fuel for their homes. This equates to just over 12,000 Island households (1). Parts of Newport, Ryde and Ventnor are among the 20% most deprived in the country.”

The elderly are suffering too. Householders aged 60 and over make up over 50% of fuel poor on the Isle of Wight and families with children making up nearly 40%.

The three main groups of people likely to experience particularly negative health impacts of fuel poverty are the elderly, infants, disabled people and those living with long-term sickness. (2).

The charity is holding a special free Cash Low? Cash Flow! Event on Monday 28th January at Newport’s Riverside Centre from 11am to 3pm to help people during this difficult time. Lots of practical help and guidance will be available from a number of charities and government departments.

Ray also highlighted the fact that thousands of Island families are in danger of losing out on a £130 cash rebate on their electricity bills.

“People in receipt of Income Support, ESA and certain other benefits and allowances should contact their electricity supplier immediately and ask about the Warm Home Discount Scheme.“

It is often those with the least amount of money that fall victims to dishonest sales staff and rip-off tradesmen.

“Recently we have had cases of a heating engineer from a national company quoting over £3,000 for a job that should cost about £1,300. Thankfully the young mum contacted us and we were able to get her to obtain more quotations for sensible prices…”

“We are big fans of solar power, but unfortunately dishonest people are now operating in this field and over-pricing the work, or are not properly accredited…”

“Someone was quoted over £12,000 for 8 solar panels; the price should be nearer to £9,000.”

“The message here is to get more quotes and check those installing are members of accreditation bodies. Never sign-up to anything on the day.”

“Ill-informed shop staff have also told people that electric heaters are cheaper than gas central heating – completely wrong. We even came across someone who was using a mobile gas heater rather than their gas central heating. Again mains gas heating is cheaper.”

The Footprint Trust have recently been awarded funding by the Dept of Health, Warm Homes Healthy People Fund for their Heat & Eat project – which visits people in the homes and can provide all kinds of assistance, including new appliances for those in most need. To contact the project text or phone (01983) 822282 or email info@footpritn-trust.co.uk


(1) There are 68,392 properties on the Isle of Wight (as of December Census 2011).
(2) Getting the measure of fuel poverty, Hills 2012.