Local councillor highlights help with fuel bills

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Royal Deeside councillor, Geva Blackett, has highlighted how Dee and Donsiders can access help with fuel bills this winter.

Following a Fuel Poverty update to Aberdeenshire Council’s Social Work & Housing Committee, showing that 42% of Aberdeenshire residents experience fuel poverty (where more than 10% of income is spent on heating costs), SNP Councillor Blackett decided to do some research into what help the energy providers might give vulnerable people on top of the support already funded by the Scottish Government.

She said “It’s a frightening thought that 13 million people in the UK live below the poverty line.

‘‘Poverty is indiscriminate and I wonder how many elderly and vulnerable people worry how they will heat their homes and eat this winter.

“With a freeze on tax credits looming from the Government, I dread to think how many people, already struggling to keep their heads above water in this cold part of Scotland and perhaps earning no more than the minimum wage of £6.50 an hour or living on a pension, will manage in the year ahead.

“I wonder how many people know about The Warm Home Discount Scheme? Available directly through electricity suppliers the scheme can save £140 off a winter bill.”

Aberdeenshire suffers some of the lowest temperatures in the UK and particularly in the west of the county – where temperatures regularly plummet well below zero during the winter months – there is an ageing population; with no gas in many parts, fuel costs are high and subject to wide price fluctuations, making budgeting on a limited income difficult.

Details of qualifying and how to apply can be accessed either through the Westminster Government link https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/overview or through your electricity supplier (such as http://www.scottishpower.co.uk/support-centre/service-and-standards/support/warm-home-discount). For people without access to the internet, information can be found either by going direct to your electricity supplier or the Citizens Advice Bureau have details of the scheme.

Sir Robert Smith MP also called for support for off-gas grid households and vulnerable people this winter.