The fuel poverty data linkage project evaluated the Welsh Government Warm Homes Schemes, NEST and ARBED.

These schemes gave free home energy efficiency improvements to people or areas in need in Wales.

The ADR Wales team were keen to see if there had been any impact on the health of the people who had received the home improvement measures. We believe that this is the first time that any research had looked at two different schemes side by side.

The team found that there was a reduction in GP activity for respiratory conditions for people who had NEST home improvements. The numbers were too small to be sure but the study also suggested that there was a reduction in GP prescribing for infections and a reduction in emergency cardiovascular admissions.

The Welsh Government policy teams working on these programmes took the results on board and as a direct result, Welsh Government changed who was eligible to receive the home improvements. Changes included widening the NEST scheme to include low-income homes where people have respiratory, circulatory or mental health conditions.

Improving people’s health is now an explicit goal of NEST, not just a hoped-for side effect of them helping to escape fuel poverty.

Now, several years after the Welsh Government used the findings to change eligibility criteria, 25% of recipients receive their NEST home improvements because of the widened eligibility introduced as a result of the study’s findings.

ADR Wales is continuing its research in this area.