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Community / Local support available to tackle energy debts

Ertie the Trow adjusting his thermostat Photo: Citizens Advice Bureau

THE LOCAL Citizens Advice Bureau has once again called on people suffering from the burden of fuel poverty to contact them for practical help.

Energy adviser Elliot Tait said that within the last month staff at the CAB office had been able to support 14 households struggling with energy debts.

Tait added that they were not just able to negotiate repayment plans but could also help with access to grant funding from a number of different sources for people meeting the criteria.

This latest advice comes ahead of the bureau running a number of energy advice clinics next week.

Tait said around one in three households in Shetland are in fuel poverty, and one in five are in extreme fuel poverty, handing over a fifth of their income to heat their homes.

He said: “The first thing we check is whether or not the debt is accurate, as estimated bills can lead to a household being overcharged.

“Next we’ll liaise with the supplier on their behalf, to negotiate a repayment plan that is affordable.

“The final thing we assess is whether the individual is eligible for grant funding.”

Tait said that during last month households supported by CAB were awarded an average of £1,100, paid directly to their energy supplier.

CAB also urges households in receipt of benefits to check if they are eligible for grant funding to install energy-saving measures.

Tait said: “We’ve seen a good number of households install insulation, new efficient boilers and heat pumps through the Warmer Homes Scotland programme. Not only does this make a home warmer, it makes energy bills more affordable too”.

The scheme is open to homeowners and private sector tenants who have lived in their property for at least 12 months, and who meet the qualifying criteria.

For example, those in receipt of Personal Independent Payment (PIP) or Carers Allowance, somebody aged over 75 and in receipt of Attendance Allowance, or a family with a child and in receipt of a passport benefit may qualify.

One-to-one appointments with an energy adviser are available next week and can be requested on warmerhomes@shetland.org or by phoning 01595 694696.