New research shows for the first time how Welsh Government funded home energy efficiency improvements, aimed at low income households, are having a positive impact on health.
Findings published today in the Fuel Poverty Health Data Linking report show lower health service use among people who had benefited from the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest scheme.
The study used NHS data to compare the health service use of people who had benefited from Nest home energy improvements and a control group who were eligible for improvements, but were still waiting for these to be completed.
The research found GP events for respiratory illness fell by almost 4% for those who had benefited from Nest improvements, while these rose by almost 10% in the control group over the same period.
A similar pattern was found in relation to asthma events, with a 6.5% decrease in the recipient group and a 12.5% increase in the control group for the same period.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:
“These findings show not only is our successful Warm Homes Nest scheme helping to reduce energy bills while reducing emissions, but is also having a positive impact on the health and well-being of some of Wales’ most vulnerable households.
“This is why I am pleased we are continuing to invest in home energy efficiency improvements for low income houses and have committed £104million over the next four years to improve up to 25,000 more homes through the Welsh Government Warm Homes Programme.”
Minister for Public Health and Social Services, Rebecca Evans added:
“The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies to work together to improve well-being, and to create a healthier Wales. This research is encouraging as we work to collaborate with communities to improve health and well-being and think differently about the way we deliver services. Preventing ill-health is much better for the individual than treating it.”
Professor Ronan Lyons, Associate Director of the Administrative Data Research Centre Wales (ADRC-W), based at Swansea University Medical School, said:
"We are delighted that ADRC-W has again been able to assist the Welsh Government in its analysis of how the Warm Homes Nest scheme has affected Welsh homes and the health of the people living in them.”
The emerging research findings have been used in the development of the new Warm Homes Nest scheme and as a result eligibility for a package of free home energy efficiency measures has been extended to low income homes with members suffering from respiratory and circulatory conditions.
ESRC Chief Executive, Professor Jane Elliott, added:
"The project findings demonstrate the power of linked administrative data for research and policy evaluation and provide robust evidence to inform more cost-effective program delivery and services to improve people's health and quality of life in Wales. The ESRC-funded Administrative Data Research Network is supporting many other important research projects across the UK that provide evidence on a range of social and policy issues that can only be answered by linking government administrative data.”