Fuel Poverty, Cold Homes and Health Inequalities in the UK: VCSE organisations to support those most impacted by “humanitarian crisis of fuel poverty.”

Author: Sian Dickie

According to a report by the Institute of Health Equity, it is predicted that “significant health, social and education detriment for a new generation of children if, as forecast, 55% of the UK’s households (around 15 million people), fall into fuel poverty by January 2023 without effective interventions.” The report highlights, that this will hit the most vulnerable and marginalised groups, such as disabled people who “face higher energy bills due to having additional needs (such as medical equipment that requires a power source) and spending longer periods at home" and minority ethnic households who are “more likely to be in fuel poverty than White households” due to income inequality. 

During this time, the Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise sector (VCFSE) and Local Authorities have worked together to support people in this time of crisis. Warm hubs, spaces and places have been set up across our region to act as a place of welcome to those who are unable to heat their homes during this Autumn-Winter period. Specific disability support by Scope and warm schemes have also been set up by a variety of organisations to reach those who could be hit the hardest by fuel poverty, to prevent exacerbating health inequalities in our communities.  

What is a Warm Hub, Space, or Place?

A Warm Space can be classified as “welcoming, local places” (Northumberland County Council) where people can “pop in and enjoy a warm welcome (literally), a warm drink and be connected to other support”  should they need it. Warm Hubs can be anything from “community centres, village halls…libraries, or even cafes and museums.”  

List of Warm Spaces:


Warm Space Directory - Search results | Durham Locate

Register your Warm Space - Warm Spaces Network - Durham County Council


Warm Space Directory - Warm Spaces directory - Gateshead Council

Register your Warm Space - Register to become a Warm Space in Gateshead - Gateshead Council

Newcastle upon Tyne

Warm Space Directory - Directory - Public Health (newcastle.gov.uk)

Register your Warm SpaceRegister - Public Health (newcastle.gov.uk)

North Tyneside

Warm Space Directory - Warm welcomes master copy_1.pdf (northtyneside.gov.uk)

Register your Warm Space - North Tyneside Council launches 'warm welcome' grant scheme | North Tyneside Council


Warm Space Directory - List of Warm Hubs | Warm Hubs | Supporting Individuals | Community Action Northumberland (ca-north.org.uk)

Register your Warm Space - Northumberland Warm Spaces & Places (office.com)

Redcar and Cleveland

Warm Space Directory - Warm Spaces | Redcar and Cleveland (redcar-cleveland.gov.uk)


Warm Space Directory - Warm Spaces - Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Register your warm space - Creating Warm Spaces for Stockton-on-Tees - Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

What is a Warm Scheme?

Warm Schemes are initiatives set up by Local Authorities to help people stay warm this Autumn-Winter. This can be anything from heating and insulation checks to emergency heating measures.

List of Warm Schemes and Campaigns:

Warm Homes Campaign – Durham County Council

Warm Homes Campaign - Durham County Council

Give a Coat a Home – Middlesborough Council

Give a Coat a Home back for 2022 | Middlesbrough Council

Sustainable Warmth Scheme - Newcastle City Council

Sustainable Warmth scheme with Newcastle City Council • Warmworks • Bringing warmth to homes and communities.

Warm & Well - Redcar and Cleveland Council  

Warm & Well Service Energy efficiency and housing | Redcar and Cleveland (redcar-cleveland.gov.uk)

Free Replacement Electric Blankets for Test Failures - Free replacement electric blankets for test failures – winter is coming, make sure your electric blanket is safe to use. Book a test now. | Redcar and Cleveland (redcar-cleveland.gov.uk)

Stay Safe and Warm campaign Stay Safe and Warm campaign to provide a vital lifeline to residents this Winter – Cleveland Fire Brigade

Warm Homes Healthy People - Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Warm Homes Healthy People Warm Homes Healthy People - Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Disability Support 

Ofgem / Scope – Priority Services Register

What is it: You can sign up to a Priority Services Register (PSR) to receive extra help from your energy or water company. It’s free to sign up. You do not need to show proof of your condition, age or situation. If you have different companies for water, electricity and gas, you will need to sign up with each. If you have a carer, they can sign up for you. You can register for all or some of the services.

Eligibility Criteria: You’re eligible if you:

  • have reached your State Pension age 
  • are disabled or have a long-term medical condition
  • are recovering from an injury
  • have a hearing or sight condition
  • have a mental health condition
  • are pregnant or have children under 5
  • have extra communication needs, such as if you do not speak or read English well

You might still be able to register for other reasons if your situation is not listed. For example, if you need short-term support after a stay in hospital.

Find out more Ofgem: Get help from your supplier | Ofgem

Find out more Scope: Priority Services Register | Disability charity Scope UK

Scope – Disability Energy Support

What is it: We offer free energy and water advice to disabled people, helping them to manage their energy and water needs. Our expert advisers can help and talk you through a wide range of topics related to your energy and water needs, including:

  • managing energy and water debt
  • changing your meter
  • energy and water efficiency
  • accessing benefits, grants, and trusts
  • free fuel vouchers (conditions apply)
  • contacting or complaining to your supplier
  • understanding your gas and electricity bills
  • understanding how to use your heating systems
  • support registering with the Priority Services Register

Eligibility Criteria: The service is open to: any disabled person or households where 1 or more disabled people live, and those households are in England or Wales. 

Find out more:  Disability Energy Support | Disability charity Scope UK

Medical Equipment

BOC Home Oxygen Service – Electricity Rebates

What is it: When an oxygen concentrator has been installed it will be serviced initially at 3 months and then every 6 months by a Patient Service Representative. As part of the service, a meter reading from the concentrator will be taken. This meter reading records the number of hours your concentrator has been used. We can then calculate the electricity that has been used to run your concentrator. We would like to make your electricity rebates easier by paying them directly into your bank account via BACS. You will be provided with a BACS form to complete at the time of installation and a prepaid envelope to return this information to us.

Find out more: Electricity Rebates | BOC Home Oxygen Service

Patient Service Centre Contact - 0800 136 603

Air Liquide Healthcare UK – Electricity Refunds

What is it: An Electricity Rebate Guide will be left when a concentrator is installed. The guide details how the rebate works and contains a Refund Form which needs to be completed and returned, to Air Liquide, so that the rebate payment can be paid into the bank. Payments are made quarterly, following your first concentrator service.

There is a minimum payment amount of £10. If your payment is below this amount in a quarter, it will be carried forward to the next quarter for future payment. A new form can be obtained by emailing us at alhomecare.patientaccounts@nhs.net or by calling us.

Find out more: Electricity refund | Air Liquide Healthcare UK

Electricity Rebate Team - 0800 781 9939.

If your Warm Space, scheme or resource is not featured and you think it would be useful, please contact healthandwellbeing@vonne.org.uk to get it added to this page.

For further information and news on the cost-of-living crisis, including more resources, check out the links below:

VONNE Cost-of-Living Crisis Directory - Cost of Living Crisis Resources | Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (vonne.org.uk)

VONNE Cost-of-Living Crisis blog - Cost of Living Crisis and its impact on VCSE sector organisations | Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (vonne.org.uk)