Disabled woman left to freeze over Christmas

Jan Wilding
Jan Wilding

A DISABLED Worthing woman who has been left for two months without heating or hot water could be left to freeze over Christmas after she was told she may not have her boiler repaired for another four months.

Despite a £800million government lump sum to help people keep their houses warm and energy efficient, Jan Wilding, of Chilgrove Close, has been told by the company that installed her boiler she may have to wait for another two to four months before an engineer will be able to visit her.

Meanwhile, the 59-year-old, who has severe arthritis, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease and dystonia, has had to use an electric heater costing £7 a day to warm one room at a time, and can only have hot water by boiling a kettle.

Jan said: “I think it is absolutely disgusting. I am fed up and ill, and what upsets me is that there must be other worse-off people in the same situation.”

Jan said her conditions mean she struggles to keep warm on a daily basis.

She said: “I am unable to lift a big kettle so cannot boil much water. I am freezing and have no way of getting warm – and it’s getting so much colder.”

Jan received a new boiler four years ago after she applied for the government Warm Front scheme, a grant which offers heating improvements and insulation to make houses more energy efficient.

When the boiler broke down October, Jan’s insurance company told her they would not be able to fix the boiler until it was “power flushed” by the installers. But when Jan called Warm Front, she was told she would simply have to wait.

Warm Front said there were “not the funds” to send out an engineer immediately – despite £800million having been allocated to the Warm Front scheme by the department for environment, food and rural affairs in 2007.

A Warm Front spokesperson said: “We understand this is a difficult situation and naturally we will make every effort to complete the work as soon as possible. It is, however, important to note that Warm Front is not an emergency service. It is a government scheme designed to provide a package of heating and insulation measures to help households on qualifying income benefits make their homes warmer and more affordable to heat.

“High levels of demand and limited funding mean there are waiting times for heating installation, which are currently up to five months. While this application was made in October, we will do what we can to confirm an install date within the next few weeks.”

Jan said she was angry and frustrated at Warm Front, who still have £800 of her £3,600 grant left over, because she knows there is money which has been allocated by the government for the Warm Front scheme.

“I know £800million was given to the scheme, so where is the money?” she said. “It’s disgraceful, no-one should be treated the way I have been treated.”