Friday 14th January 2022 – For Immediate Release
WISHART WELCOMES NEW SUPPORT FUND LAUNCHED FOR SCOTS STRUGGLING WITH ENERGY BILLS
Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, has welcomed a new home heating support fund which will help Scots struggling with their energy bills amid a growing cost-of-living crisis.
The £3million Scottish Government scheme, which is administered by national advice service Advice Direct Scotland, is designed to prevent households falling into fuel poverty and help those ‘rationing’ their energy use.
The Home Heating Support Fund is open until 31 March and applications can only be made on behalf of individuals by referral partners through homeheatingadvice.scot.
Local authorities and housing associations, as well as charities and organisations which provide energy or debt advice, are encouraged to register online so that they can seek funding for people they support.
Individuals cannot apply directly, but they should contact Advice Direct Scotland for free on 0808 800 9060 or visit www.advice.scot, and trained advisers can assess their eligibility and refer them if appropriate.
Even if they are not eligible, Advice Direct Scotland can offer free advice on energy and debt issues.
Last year, a poll found that nearly a third of Scots had rationed their energy use so they could afford to spend money on other goods and services.
With recent price rises and a further steep increase in bills expected in spring, there are growing concerns about the impact on households.
Targeted funding from the Home Heating Support Fund will reflect each individual’s circumstances, with extra support available for households where one person is over 75, they rely on electric heating, or live in a remote or island community.
Payments start at £100, rising to £500 to clear outstanding debt, with the money paid directly to suppliers on behalf of the household.
Eligibility is based on households which are ‘self-rationing’ their energy, meaning those who are deliberately limiting their energy use so that they can afford to spend money on other goods or services. This could be as a result of home-working or home-schooling due to the pandemic.
Any households which are ‘off-supply’ are not eligible for the fund, and should seek immediate support from their energy supplier or organisations which can refer them to the Fuel Bank Foundation.
Mr Wishart has encouraged any local residents struggling with their energy bills to seek support from the fund through the energy and/or debt organisation currently providing them with advice, or by contacting Advice Direct Scotland for free on 0808 800 9060 or visit www.advice.scot.
Their expert debt advisers will assess eligibility and apply for funding on the individual’s behalf if appropriate.
Commenting, Mr Wishart said:
“I welcome the introduction of the £3 million Home Heating Support Fund, which will help the many households across Scotland who have are struggling to heat their homes in light of the skyrocketing energy prices that we are seeing just now.
“Nobody should have to choose between heating and eating, and this fund will help keep families safe during the cold months ahead. This is yet another example of the Scottish Government’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in our society, and I urge those eligible to apply before the 31st March deadline.”
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“As the country recovers from the Covid pandemic and its economic impact, this fund will prove absolutely crucial in ensuring that households who have been hit the hardest can continue to heat their homes and feed their families.
“With recent energy prices rises and more on the horizon, we know that many Scots are facing financial difficulties at the moment.
“Last year, we discovered that families were rationing energy such as only heating one room, and this fund is designed to ensure that people do not have to make that choice.
“Our unique experience and infrastructure at Advice Direct Scotland guarantees our capability to ensure that financial support reaches consumers facing financial hardship, while our nationwide network allows us to deliver this vital service and ensure that all households in Scotland suffering from fuel poverty can receive the help they need.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
More information on the Home Heating Support Fund is available here: https://homeheatingadvice.scot/
Advice Direct Scotland is a charity which runs the national advice service advice.scot. Advice is available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance, by phoning 0808 800 9060 or contacting advice.scot.
A photo of Andrew Bartlett is available here.