Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson has welcomed a £4m home heating support fund from the Scottish Government to help those struggling to pay energy bills.
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. And with recent price rises and a further steep increase in bills due in April, there are growing concerns about the impact on households.
The 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 in order to pay for other essentials.
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Targeted funding from the Home Heating Support Fund will reflect on individual’s circumstances, with extra support available for households where one person is over 75, living with a disability or illness, and/or living in a remote or island community.
Individual households in Scotland can also now apply directly to the fund and the MSP is encouraging any resident who is struggling with the cost of their energy bills to seek support from the fund through organizations currently providing them with advice, or by completing a household application.
Registrations for help can be made until March 31, and more than 400 charities, organizations and advisers have already signed up as referral partners so they can make applications on behalf of their clients.
Applications can be made on behalf of individuals by referral partners.
Individual households in Scotland can also now apply directly to the fund.
Applicants will need to provide evidence they have received advice from an accredited debt or energy advice agency.
Households which are “off-supply” are not eligible for the fund and should seek immediate support from their energy supplier or organizations which can refer them to the Fuel Bank Foundation.
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “This fund is making a massive difference for Scots who are facing huge debts and are being forced to cut back on essentials to heat their homes.
“We have already issued more than £1m on behalf of the Scottish Government to support Scots struggling with their energy bills.
“More and more referral partners are registering to help their clients as the cost-of-living crisis escalates.
“Our advisers are working hard to provide free advice to people across Scotland at this difficult time for so many, and more and more referral partners are registering to help their clients as the cost-of-living crisis escalates.”
Applications can be made online.
Anyone struggling with the application can contact Advice Direct Scotland advisers for free on 0808 800 9060, who can also make applications to the fund on their behalf.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.