A plumber who provided free work for elderly and disabled people is close to having to shut down his business due to ‘lack of funds’.

Burnley-based James Anderson, 54, carries out free work – including new boilers, repairs, and remedial work after rogue traders have struck – for people mostly across the county who might otherwise struggle to afford it.

His community interest company, Depher, has typically been funded by a roughly equal split of money from paying customers and donations from the public.

Over the past 18 months Mr Anderson has seen both revenue streams contract – especially donations – as people feel the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

James said: “We went into the pandemic with about £130,000 and we’ve now got about £27,000, so you can see it’s a massive impact.

“We used to have enough money coming so we could help a lot of people, but we’re now at the stage where, if things don’t change and we don’t see an improvement in private jobs coming in or a massive improvement in funding coming in, then Depher may have to shut permanently.”

The customers Depher has helped recently include a 95-year-old man who was quoted a price of nearly £300 by another company for someone to bleed his radiators, and a couple who was charged more than £5,000 by another company for a bathroom which was so poorly done that, Mr Anderson said, it was dangerous.

In an attempt to secure funding, Mr Anderson has written to local MPs, the Prime Minister and even the Queen but has so far had no success.

He is expecting the fallout from the pandemic to continue affecting the pockets of the public, so is hoping businesses may step in to help bridge the funding gap.

He said: “The only way I can see it improving is if the Government steps in and says ‘OK, we’ll give you some sort of funding’… or if other companies come in and offer some substantial kind of investment, maybe partnerships, something like that.”

James fears he may not be able to continue past December, leaving such customers vulnerable throughout the winter.

“It would mean a lot more people suffering,” he added.

James started providing free services for people struggling while he was running Northern Plumbing and Heating in Burnley.

To donate, head to gofundme.com/f/elderly-and-vulnerable-free-plumbing-heating