First Minister urges Scots to take up £74m fund to keep warm this winter


  By Lynn Malone
Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is urging Scots to contact a new hotline offering £74m in funding to help to people struggling to pay their energy bills this winter.
The Scottish government budget aims to help Scots reduce their fuel bills and make their home warmer – part of plans to increase energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty this and next year.

The new national campaign will make sure households know what energy initiatives they are entitled to as figures show 75 per cent of Scots are worried about their bills.

Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, launched the campaign which highlights the benefits available to Scots through the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Scotland hotline which offers free impartial energy advice and support.

She said: “The Home Energy Scotland hotline is an invaluable source of support for householders all over the country, providing a one stop shop for the Scottish Government’s home energy saving initiatives.

“Many people are losing money by not taking up initiatives, yet anyone can apply for up to £1200 towards home improvements that will make their home warmer, greener and more cost effective.

“Many people will also qualify to get energy-saving home improvements such as insulation, boilers or central heating for free. The hotline’s advisers are friendly and impartial and one call is all it takes to see what you might be eligible for.”

Thousands of households across Scotland are eligible to have insulation, boilers and central heating installed for free. One call to the hotline is all it takes to find out if you qualify.

The Home Energy Scotland hotline’s expert advisers can inform callers which of the Scottish government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programmes they qualify for, as well as giving personalised advice on how to make homes more efficient.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) say many people are worried about paying their gas and electricity bills, with one third of Scottish households in fuel poverty.  CAS encourages big energy companies to cut their bills and inform consumers of help available.

Their Chief Executive, Margaret Lynch, said: “The good news is that there are quite a number of schemes that help people who are struggling to pay their fuel bills.

“The bad news is that many consumers don’t know about them, and so don’t apply to them and instead suffer the cold, or debt – or both.  There are in fact so many different schemes that the picture can be quite confusing and many people just don’t even try to access them.

“So we have called in the past for the government to find ways of setting this information out in a clear, straightforward and impartial way. This new helpline will hopefully do that.  And the CAB service too is always ready to advise anyone who needs help with their fuel bills – or any other bills.

“So we urge people to seek out this information. Just see what you are entitled to. You may not be eligible for help, but equally you could be missing out on all sorts of financial assistance.  Why ignore money that is available to you? Get advice today and see if you can get help to stay warm this winter.

CAS are urging people to help the elderly and vulnerable, who may be eligible for help but are unaware, to pass on what schemes are available.

Ms Lynch added: “It could make all the difference to helping them avoid another cold miserable winter.”

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