Wembley pensioner left to live with no heating for three years wins compensation from the government
PUBLISHED: 13:46 09 April 2013 | UPDATED: 13:58 09 April 2013
Donald Siteman and his late wife Evelyn had a boiler installed under the Warm Front energy scheme which broke down
The government has been ordered to pay compensation to a Wembley pensioner after a faulty boiler left him freezing in his home for three years as he cared for his ailing wife.
Donald Siteman and his late wife Evelyn had a boiler installed under the government’s Warm Front energy scheme in 2009.
But it broke down after just six months and following three bitterly cold winters filled with a catalogue of excuses and delays it was still not fixed.
Mr Siteman, 90, told the Times the problems got so bad he was often forced to spend days at a time away from the home during ‘impossible’ winters.
The problems were compounded by his wife Evelyn’s battle with tongue cancer.
She died in October last year.
Mr Siteman said: “The last few winters were very difficult, especially last year. The house is particularly cold anyway with brick walls all around.
“It was a very small boiler that was installed; I knew it was wrong from the beginning even before it broke down.”
The Warm Front Scheme was designed to make homes warmer, healthier and more energy-efficient.
It offers a package of heating and insulation measures and is for people on income-related benefits and pensioners.
A report by government watchdog Ombudsman ordered the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to pay Mr Siteman £1,000 and carry out remedial work at the home and found both the DECC and contractor Carillion guilty of ‘maladministration’.
But Mr Siteman said no amount money could replace the suffering he endured.
He continued: “For three years they would just send different people around always giving excuses and playing for time – god knows how many times I complained.”
During the most recent winter which saw temperatures dip well into the minuses Mr Siteman temporarily moved out to live with his daughter.
“Money cant replace the suffering we endured, it’s meaningless.” – he added.
A DECC spokesman admitted the customer service provided was ‘unacceptable’.
He added: “We are writing to Mr Siteman directly to express our most sincere apologies that the service he received was far from the usual high standard.
“We have worked with Carillion, who run Warm Front, to ensure that Mr Siteman now has a suitable heating system installed in his home which he is happy with.
“Warm Front has helped around 2.3million vulnerable households since 2000. Overall customer satisfaction remains high for the scheme.”
Carrilion were unavailable for comment.
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