Energy Assistance Package
A new survey has found that four in ten (41 per cent) Scots are worried about being able to afford their home heating bills this winter.
And more than half (56 per cent) know someone else that will struggle to do so, such as a grandparent, elderly relative, neighbour or friend.
The results of the survey of 1,045 Scottish people - commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust - coincide with the launch of a Scotland-wide TV advertising campaign for the Energy Assistance Package - a new initiative that will provide real financial and environmental benefits to Scots struggling to heat their homes this winter.
The poll findings reveal that around half of Scottish people (52 per cent) do not know that the Scottish Government offers grants and assistance to help people heat their home.
The Energy Assistance Package was created following a recommendation from the independently chaired Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum. It is funded by the Scottish Government to the value of £60 million this year and is delivered through the Energy Saving Scotland advice network, managed by the Energy Saving Trust.
The Energy Assistance Package is open to everyone and offers different levels of advice and support depending on householders' circumstances - such as benefits received
In the TV campaign, which starts across the country tomorrow, the Scottish Government and the Energy Saving Trust are calling on Scottish people to 'pass it on' and tell others about the Energy Assistance Package helpline.
The research found that 89 per cent of Scots would pass on information to family and friends about deals or information and Government grants and schemes - they think are relevant to them.
Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said:
"There is no doubt that an increasing number of families across Scotland are worried about rising fuel bills.
"Colder nights are round the corner so we have to shout from the rooftops about the Energy Assistance Package and the benefits it can bring to hard pressed families.
"Through this advertising campaign we want to spread the message about the Package and the help available to different groups of people. We want people to call the 0800 number to find out if they are eligible for assistance.
"The Energy Assistance Package can make a huge difference to people living in cold, energy inefficient homes. It offers a range of services including energy efficiency advice, benefits and social tariffs checks and, for eligible groups, help with physical measures to improve energy efficiency in the home.
"These measures are available not only to elderly people but, for the first time, to households with children under five or a disabled child under the age of 16 in receipt of certain benefits."
Mike Thornton, Director Scotland for the Energy Saving Trust, said:
"For many families, the onset of colder weather means higher fuel bills and tighter family budgets. If a home is energy inefficient, it costs more to heat and can impact on health and quality of life. The elderly and children can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of a cold home.
"We are really encouraged by the fact that 90 per cent of Scots would 'pass it on', as we are urging people to spread the word about the Energy Assistance Package to friends, family, neighbours, anyone that they feel is in need of extra help with heating their home this winter. Passing on the Energy Assistance Package message is vital to ensuring that those who need assistance from the package know how to get it."
The Energy Assistance Package offers different levels of advice and support. Calls are particularly encouraged from:
- Families with a child under five or a disabled child under 16
- Pregnant women
- Those aged between 60 and 75, particularly if income is limited
- Those 75 or over
Since its launch in April 2009 the Energy Assistance Package has helped over 12,000 people through energy advice, benefits and tax credits checks, access to social tariffs and referral for energy saving measures, such as insulation and heating systems