Scotland's £74M fund helps with heating bills

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Consumers are being urged to make use of a £74 million fund to help with home heating bills, says irvineherald.co.uk.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to launch a national awareness campaign today in the wake of a survey showing three-quarters of householders are worried about their energy bills.

Free impartial energy advice and support is being offered through the Scottish Government's home energy hotline, with money available for home improvements such as insulation.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Many people are losing money by not taking up initiatives yet anyone can apply for up to £1,200 towards home improvements that will make their home warmer, greener and more cost-effective.

"Many people will also qualify to get energy-saving home improvements such as insulation, boilers or central heating for free.

"The hotline's advisers are friendly and impartial, and one call is all it takes to see what you might be eligible for."

A recent YouGov survey found that three-quarters of Scottish billpayers are concerned about the cost of their energy this winter while more than 70% said last winter's energy bills had a negative impact on their disposable income.

More than 800,000 people have received energy advice or help on heating bills since 2009 through the Scottish Government Home Energy Scotland hotline 0808 808 2282 and website www.homeenergyscotland.org.uk.

Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch said: "We see many people who are worried about paying their gas and electricity bills. And we know that around one-third of Scottish households are in fuel poverty - an astonishingly high figure.

"The good news is that there are quite a number of schemes that help people who are struggling to pay their fuel bills.

"The bad news is that many consumers don't know about them, and so don't apply to them and instead suffer the cold, or debt, or both.

"We have called in the past for the government to find ways of setting this information out in a clear, straightforward and impartial way. This new helpline will hopefully do that."