National Energy Action Awards to Tackle Fuel Poverty

Community Action Awards 2014-16: Tackling fuel poverty together in local communities

Apply for phase 2 before 9 January 2015

Are you involved in an exciting, innovative project to tackle fuel poverty in your local community?

NEA, British Gas and the Department of Energy and Climate Change are inviting applications to the Community Action Awards, which recognise best practice amongst those who are working to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency in their local communities. The scheme is running from 2014-16 with a total of 25 awards made to community groups, third sector organisations, health agencies, local authorities and other public and not-for-profit organisations in England and Wales that demonstrate innovative approaches to tackling fuel poverty

Winners will receive £1,500 to develop or enhance their project; a free place at the NEA Annual Conference; and practical and financial support to hold a community celebration event.

The published deadlines are:
• Phase 2 – 9 January 2015
• Phase 3 – 17 April 2015
• Phase 4 – 2 October 2015
• Phase 5 – 8 January 2016

For further information and to apply go to http://www.nea.org.uk/communityactionawards

Guest blog From Stephen Battersby: Generation Rent

Generation Rent is the operating name for the National Private Tenants Organisation.  This was established a couple of years ago, but in 2013 secured funding from a charitable trust and established a new board and started to recruit staff for the first time.  This enabled the organisation to help push the problem of private renting further up the political agenda as the number of private renters exceeds that of tenants in social housing.   One of the aims of the organisation is to give tenants a local voice where there is not already a private tenants’ group and to work with those existing groups, which can also be a resource for local authorities.  A Renters’ Manifesto was published in June alongside a paper prepared by Alex Hilton the Director, “Buying out of the Bubble“, which set out policy to create tens of thousands of permanently affordable homes each year with private investment. It requires the creation of a secondary housing market for people who want to pay to live in a home, but not to bear the cost (or enjoy the returns) of property as an investment. It’s based on the principles of Community Land Trusts.  The Manifesto itself contains a number of proposals for the PRS and for the political parties election manifestos. These include reforming ASTs to give longer minimum periods, and longer notice periods for possession – “earned notice”, controlling maximum rents and limiting rent increases. There should be a national register of landlords, more local or social lettings agencies. It is also proposed to make it mandatory to have periodic electrical safety certificate. It is also suggested that there should be fixed penalty notices for allowing a Category 1 hazard under the HHSRS and the use of s.21 notice should be limited where there are serious hazards.  There is also to be a national day of renting at Westminster Central Hall on 4 February 2015.  More information on Generation Rent can be found at http://www.generationrent.org/ and is where supporters can sign up.

Ageing in place – what should we do?

A lot of work in environmental health is invariably about the bottom end of privately rented sector, where housing conditions are at their most acute. However there is little published about the environmental health role in owner occupied housing where residents ‘age in place’. This has become a more complex area as with our ageing population comes a concurrent rise in degenerative disease and a need for more specialist services to respond to the interrelated needs of housing, health and social care.

This week the Journal of Integrated Care published a piece by Jill Stewart and colleagues entitled Ageing at home? Meeting housing, health and social needs, (not open access) which consolidates a range of issues relevant to owner occupiers who age in place. It suggests how effective partnerships might respond to and meet the changing needs of housing, health and social care of our ageing population as most owners wish to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. We need however to think through new and innovative ways of developing and providing front-line services to enhance health and safety in the home alongside addressing quality of life and well-being, including tackling loneliness and isolation. There are examples of evidence-based good practice, but scope for service provision to be improved – what could or should we expect from housing, health and social care services as we ourselves age?

Jill

Guest blog from Russell Moffatt: Licencing at the London Borough of Newham

We are delighted to add this blog from Russell Moffatt, Environmental Health Practitioner, at Newham’s Private Sector Housing Team about their innovative approach to tackling the sector.

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Newham’s private rented property licensing scheme may change the way the private rented sector is regulated and held accountable by local communities.

Over the last decade Newham’s private rented sector has doubled in size from 20,000 to more than 40,000 properties. Intense demand for cheap housing has resulted in some shocking housing conditions and some of the highest levels of overcrowding in the UK. Houses designed for a family of 5 are regularly found with 12 plus adults living in every available room, on occasions even in the kitchen. Families have been found sharing properties with people they do not know and living at the bottom of gardens in cheaply built sheds with no heating at all. These types of housing conditions put serious environmental pressures on individuals and families and are likely to result is poor health outcomes and diminished life chances.

Newham has licensed 95% of all the eligible private rented properties within 2 years of the scheme starting, along the way many criminal landlords have been prosecuted and property conditions improved.
Licensing has enabled Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) to identify and tackle the worst run properties and ensure tenants are afforded reasonable protection from exploitive and incompetent landlords. At the extreme end, 20 landlords who have been found ‘not fit and proper’ have been banned from renting property in Newham at all, sending a very strong message to the criminal landlord community.

Each property licence sets an occupation limit to help EHPs tackle and prevent overcrowding in the sector as well as to introduce minimum standards relating to the way properties and tenancies are managed.  Through issuing licenses not only does the housing authority know who is responsible for maintaining properties, tenants and the general public can also begin to hold landlords accountable, making it easier for them to report problems, such as disrepair and anti-social behaviour.

Public Health England – Evidence into Action – I am not convinced

Originally posted on Local Democracy and Health:

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Reading the Public Heath England report ‘Evidence into Action” I sometimes get the feeling that Duncan Selbie is being held  in a room by the Governments Public Health Minister and a bunch of doctors from the Health Protection Agency.

Every so often he manages to get out a passing reference to inequality or the social determinants of health – but for most of the time all that escapes the room is talk of diseases, clinical interventions and changing the behaviour of the irresponsible public.

The values are right.

“Evidence into Action” starts by recognising the importance of a new approach:

  • that encourages everyone to gain more control of their health
  • where prevention and early intervention are the norm
  • where action on health inequalities is across all the wider determinants of health
  • where assets of individuals families and communities are built on to support improved health

Unfortunately aside from a passing reference to “Due…

View original 542 more words

PHE and evidence into action

Public Health England have released From Evidence into Action: Opportunities to Protect and Improve the Nation’s Health (October 2014). It lists priorities for the next five years based on evidence of what is known to work to most effectively rank interventions and encourages others including health professions, national and local government, voluntary and community organisations to apply evidence to protect and improve health.

Jill