Thousands of homes to get free heating

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ONE thousand homes in West Yorkshire will get free emergency heating, handyman visits and fire safety checks under a drive to cut hospital admissions this winter.

The Government is spending £90,900 on Wakefield’s “Snowbell Responders” scheme which aims to help vulnerable households in the district.

Another £168,700 will be spent in Leeds boosting a Green Doctor service, setting aside a crisis fund to stop vulnerable residents becoming ill because of cold weather and extending support and information to households in need.

The cash is part of a £20m drive being unveiled by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to prevent winter hospital admissions.

Mr Lansley said: “Severe winter weather is a real threat to vulnerable people. People are more likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes, respiratory illnesses can get worse, and there is the risk of falls on slippery ground.

“Every vulnerable person needs help in winter, whether it’s help with shopping, heating the home or making hot meals. We asked councils to come up with innovative ideas to look after their communities and have made £20 million available to fund their plans.”

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, added: “The Coalition Government has set a new emphasis on public health as one of its key objectives, and delivering the Cold Weather Plan is a very important step in the right direction.”