New fund aims to help those in fuel poverty

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed a new home heating support fund which will help Scots struggling with their energy bills during the Covid lockdown.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 8:16 am
In this day and age nobody should be forced to choose between eating or heating

The £4million Scottish Government scheme, which will be administered by national advice service Advice Direct Scotland, is designed to prevent households falling into fuel poverty.

The Home Heating Support Fund is open until March 31 and applications can only be made on behalf of individuals by ‘referral partners’ through www.homeheatingadvice.scot.

This includes local authorities and third sector organisations, with payments then made directly to energy suppliers on behalf of their customers. 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.

In 2019, an estimated 24.6 per cent of all households were in fuel poverty - around 613,000 households – and the pandemic has increased financial hardship for many.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar 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 through: http://www.advice.scot/

Their expert debt advisers will assess eligibility and apply for funding on the individual’s behalf if appropriate.

Chair of Communities and Housing, Cllr Kenny John Macleod said: “The Scottish Government’s commitment of funds to help support those effected by fuel poverty is very much welcomed.

"Fuel poverty is an issue that disproportionately effects individuals in the Western Isles with an estimated 40 per cent of households in fuel poverty in 2019. This will be worsened by the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. No individual in the Western Isles should be unable to heat their home or be forced to sacrifice other essentials to do so.

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “No household should suffer in fuel poverty or have to ration fuel simply to get by.