‘One-stop’ shop helpline available for Oxford residents to keep homes warm.

Residents in Oxford concerned about keeping warm in their homes this winter are being encouraged to contact the free helpline for advice.

The helpline, which is operated by the Better Housing Better Health (BHBH) scheme, provides any Oxford resident with a single point of contact for services, advice and grants in order to stay warm and well in their homes.

The free ‘Better Housing Better Health’ helpline, 0800 107 0044, which residents can ring for guidance on how to stay warm, is open Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.

The scheme has been launched by the National Energy Foundation (NEF), working on behalf of Oxford City Council and the five other local authorities across Oxfordshire

Those at greater risk of the impacts of cold homes include those who are:

  • Aged over 60
  • Children under 5 and pregnant mothers
  • Living with respiratory disease (COPD, asthma)
  • On a low income
  • Suffer from cardiovascular disease (Ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease)
  • Suffer from moderate to severe mental illness
  • Terminally ill
  • Have limited mobility
  • Have severe learning difficulties
  • In long-term debt

There are no eligibility requirements for residents wanting to access the service. Any resident who is looking for free advice on how to keep warm is encouraged to call the helpline. 

Residents who call the helpline will have their needs assessed over the phone and, where eligible, can be referred to:

  • Expert Energy Advice
  • LEAP Home Energy Visit and associated services such as small repairs
  • Energy bill discounts
  • Grants and funding
  • Income maximisation
  • Other Council services and more



Electric blanket testing – FREE!

date for testing

October 2016 dates

  • Monday 3rd – Oxford
  • Tuesday 4th – Banbury
  • Wednesday 5th – Wallingford
  • Thursday 6th – Abingdon
  • Friday 7th – Witney
  • Monday 17th – Wantage
  • Tuesday 18th – Bicester
  • Wednesday 19th – Henley
  • Thursday 20th – Oxford
  • Friday 21st – Chipping Norton

How to book your free test

To book your safety check appointment call 01865 815 000 option 4 or email: communityengagement@oxfordshire.gov.uk
Pre-booked appointments only on a strictly first come first served basis

2016 partners

  • Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service
  • Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards
  • Cherwell District Council
  • West Oxfordshire District Council
  • South Oxfordshire District Council
  • Vale of White Horse District Council
  • Age UK Oxfordshire
  • Witney Rotary Club

Why do electric blankets fail their test?

  • Because they were over 10 years old and had no safety features built into the controller.
  • Because of a leakage of voltage to the surface of the blanket.
  • The elements were able to move around inside the blanket with the potential to rub together and cause a short circuit.
  • Elements were not secured within the blanket and were exposed to the surface.
  • Power lead fasteners were broken and unable to be secured.
  • The surface of the blanket was worn, exposing the elements.


Grants to help keep your home warm


Oxford residents affected by living in cold or damp homes are able to receive grants of up to £2,500 to help keep their homes warmer.

The Better Housing, Better Health scheme aims to reduce the pressure on health services, improve health and wellbeing for those living with cardiovascular disease or respiratory illness, and reduce fuel poverty.

The scheme, which runs until December 2016, provides:

  • Grants of up to £2,500 for energy efficiency measures for owner occupied homes where someone has a respiratory illness or cardiovascular disease. Measures can include installing insulation and draught-proofing, and replacing outside doors or windows
  • Free surveys to identify potential risks to health in owner occupied and privately rented homes where someone has a respiratory illness or cardiovascular disease.
  • Support with benefits checks, fuel debt mediation and switching energy tariff or supplier for anyone in need of support.

Oxford residents can quickly check if they are eligible by calling the Affordable Warmth Helpline on 0800 107 00 44.

The helpline, which also provides free and impartial advice about how to keep homes warm, is open Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.

An email helpdesk is also available: awn@nef.org.uk.

For more information about Better Housing, Better Health, please visit www.nef.org.uk/bhbh.

Is flooding a problem for you?


There will be a public meeting on Tuesday 13 October from 7:00-9:00 at the Town Hall called the Flood Forum.

The Forum is open to all residents across Oxford and gives people an opportunity to talk about flooding issues in their area to representatives of partner agencies including:

  • Environment Agency
  • Thames Water
  • Network Rail
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Oxford City Council

We are encouraging groups like the Stoke Place Residents’ Group, the Friends of Old Headington, and the Friends of Lye Valley to attend the meeting. If you have neighbours or friends affected by flooding issues in Oxford, please do encourage them to go along as this is their opportunity to raise their issues directly with the people who can make improvements.


Students and Council Tax

Residents asked us about the situation re students and council tax at our Ward Focus Meeting on Tuesday. Here is some information from Oxford City Council.

Do students have to pay Council Tax?

  • Properties occupied by full time students only are exempt from payment of Council Tax. You will need to ensure that the Council receive letters from all residents confirming your student status before this exemption can be applied to your Council tax account.
  • If you are a student and you share your address with someone who is not a full time student then we can reduce the Council tax bill by 25%.
  • If you are a student and you share your address with two or more joint tenants who are not full time students then there is no reduction and the people who are not students will be named on the Council Tax bill.

If you have any further questions on council tax, you may find this link helpful. Please note that there are distinctions depending upon whether a student is full or part time and how old they are, so it’s best to follow the link where there is information on this and other more general issues regarding council tax eligibility

SmartWater. How to mark your property

What is SmartWater?

SmartWater is a colourless liquid that fluoresces yellow under ultra-violet (UV) light and contains a unique forensic fingerprint.

SmartWater provides proof of ownership, linking property to the rightful owner and criminals to a crime scene.

Where is SmartWater used?


Electrical goods, jewellery and other valuables are being marked in domestic properties.


Electrical and water companies protect sub stations, cable and other metals.


Church roofs, vehicles and even musical instruments are all being marked.


Electricity cable and earthing bonds at trackside are being marked.


SmartWater is protecting HGV drivers and their loads from hi-jack and theft.


Cash in transit companies and banks are protecting staff and money.


Saddles, horse boxes and other equipment is SmartWater protected.


Shops and supermarkets protect stock, cigarette kiosks and alcohol displays.


Farms, factories and plant hirers are marking vehicles and machinery.


Councils are marking domestic and commercial waste to deter fly-tippers.


Individuals and clubs are protecting  boats, yachts and equipment.

Who is looking for SmartWater?

Police Forces worldwide are trained to look for SmartWater. Second hand dealers, scrap merchants and metal recyclers are working with the Police and are scanning goods and metals brought onto their premises with UV equipment to identify stolen property.

If you want to know more, join your local Neighbourhood Watch group to get SmartWater at a discounted rate

SmartWater is recommended by the police. For more details of the product click here