Energy Assistance eligibility extended to carers
Carers who look after family or friends will qualify for free energy assistance help, backed by the Scottish Government.
New Regulations laid at Parliament extend the eligibility for the Energy Assistance Package to include people in receipt of the Carers' Allowance.
Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment said:
"We recognise the enormous pressures being placed on family budgets as a result of ever increasing fuel costs. As we head into winter more and more people will find it a challenge to adequately heat their homes.
"By extending our Energy Assistance Package to include people receiving Carers' Allowance, we can go some way to helping around 7,000 carers reduce their heating bills and encourage greater efficiency of energy used at home.
"For carers in particular, they can be called on to support family and friends 24/7 so it is vitally important that they are eligible for the right assistance and avoid falling into fuel poverty."
Norman Kerr, Director of fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland said:
"This move by the Scottish Government to open the Energy Assistance Package to people in receipt of Carers Allowance is very welcome. It is important to expand the eligibility of the Energy Assistance Package to ensure that as many vulnerable groups as possible can benefit from the scheme.
"We would encourage people who may be eligible, and those who come into contact with carers in the course of their work, to call the Government's helpline for more information."
Depending on individual circumstances, the Energy Assistance Package may consist of but is not limited to:
- Installation of a new central heating system including where appropriate air source heat pumps
- A new boiler
- Internal or external wall insulation
- Cavity wall insulation
- Loft insulation
- Room thermostats and heating controls
- Insulation of tanks and pipes
The Regulation will come into force on November 30, 2011.
The Energy Assistance Package is a holistic package to help maximise incomes, reduce fuel bills and improve the energy efficiency of homes. It replaces the Central Heating and Warm Deal programmes.
The Energy Saving Trust manages delivery of the package on behalf of the Scottish Government. The package has four stages:
- Stage one offers free expert energy advice to anyone who phones the Energy Savings Scotland advice centre(ESSAC) network on 0800 512 012.
- Stage two provides benefits and tax credit checks and advice on low cost energy tariffs to those at risk of fuel poverty.
- Stage three provides a package of standard insulation measures (cavity wall and loft insulation) to older households and those on one of a range of benefits.
- Stage four offers a package of enhanced energy efficiency measures to those who are most vulnerable to fuel poverty.
More information is available from the Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512 012 or visit www.energyassistancepackage.com
Final costs will dependant on take up of the scheme and will be met from the Scottish Government's Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency programmes.
Since its launch in April 2009 the Energy Assistance Package has provided advice to over 200,000 people and provided heating measures (including complete heating systems and boilers) to 21,000 households, which have reduced heating bills by an estimated £12 million.