Margaret Burgess: Cutting energy bills still high on agenda

Easing fuel poverty is still high on the agenda. Picture: John Devlin
Easing fuel poverty is still high on the agenda. Picture: John Devlin
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SUPPORT is available to help the vulnerable tackle fuel poverty, says Margaret Burgess

Tackling fuel poverty is a key priority for the Scottish Government. We recognise that rising energy bills are a major issue for many people across Scotland, and we want to respond to the real pressure these households face.

We believe everyone in Scotland should be living in a warm home that is affordable to heat. In order to achieve this, we have put a number of measures in place to provide support to those who need it the most.

In September, we announced our new fuel poverty scheme, which seeks to help as many as 28,000 people stay warm over the next seven years.

The Warmer Homes Scotland scheme is worth up to £224 million and aims to help fuel poor households reduce their bills with heating and insulation measures. There is also an interest free loan scheme for energy efficiency improvements.

Since 2009, we have allocated over half a billion pounds to make Scotland’s homes more energy efficient, which has helped over 700,000 households. But we know that over half of what is spent on fuel bills continues to go on heating and hot water. It’s crucial to get bills down – particularly for vulnerable people and those on low incomes. The support is therefore aimed at the 39.1 per cent of Scottish households hit by fuel poverty as a result of high fuel costs and energy inefficient homes.

It’s vital that everyone who can get help to cut their bills gets it. People in rural and island areas will be offered the same service as those in easier-to-reach areas.

The Home Energy Scotland helpline is free to call and offers clear and impartial advice. Around a third of households in Scotland have been offered support by the helpline since it launched. Over 35,000 households have already benefited from the free advice over the last 10 weeks during our Home Energy Scotland marketing campaign.

We are committed to continuing to assist households in Scotland to escape fuel poverty, it’s part of our commitment to creating a fairer country for all. I’d urge everyone to call the helpline to find out what they may be entitled to.

• Margaret Burgess, Minister for Housing and Welfare