SNP MP for Gordon, Richard Thomson, has welcomed a new home heating support fund launched for Scots struggling with their energy bills during the Covid-19 lockdown. 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 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 that 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. Mr Thomson is encouraging 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 Thomson said:
“With more people spending time at home during the pandemic the struggle many people face to heat their home has increased. This fund will assist in curbing the fuel poverty that some households are experiencing right now.
“Money can be tight but battling energy costs should not be a concern so I welcome this funding from the Scottish Government to tackle inequality and help ensure everyone has a warm home.”
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“No household should suffer in fuel poverty or have to ration fuel to get by. The Covid pandemic has increased financial hardship and many Scots have been left struggling as a result of increased energy costs while working from home or home-schooling. We are working hard to administer this new fund from the Scottish Government to ensure that fewer Scots are struggling with their energy bills. As well as working closely with partner organisations, our own expert debt advisers can also directly help individuals who have financial worries.”