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Ross householders urged to tackle fuel hikes head on

By Jenna MacCulloch

Highland Council
Highland Council

HOUSEHOLDERS in Ross-shire are being urged to seek advice from an energy hotline to insulate themselves from rising fuel prices.

The Home Energy Scotland Hotline, funded by the Scottish Government, can provide energy saving advice and assistance to help households save money and keep their homes warm.

Local advisors can offer information on energy rates, benefits, tax credits and supported insulation and heating schemes.

The latest published figures from the Scottish house condition survey reported that in The Highland Council area, in 2009, over a third of households (36 per cent) were classed as fuel poor, for example spending more that 10 per cent of their income on household fuel.

One in 10 (10 per cent) were in extreme fuel poverty.

The Highland Council predicts that the number of households experiencing fuel poverty will rise significantly because of the continuing increases in the price of fuel.

The Highland Council urges all householders to tackle the threat of increasing fuel prices head on and call local advisors from the Home Energy Scotland Hotline on 0800 512 012.

The Hotline offers a one stop shop to help householders save energy and money. It provides free and independent advice tailored to individual households on reducing fuel costs, the availability of grant funding to install insulation or new heating systems and how to switch supplier.

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "We know that many people can do with help when it comes to paying for their heating and keeping their home warm. We are very concerned that the impact of these fuel prices rises will come as a shock to many households when the cold weather sets in - particularly at a time when petrol and food costs are rising too."

She added: "People who are most likely to be affected by these increased fuel costs are those who are in their house all day – not just those who have retired but families with young children. It is likely that there are things which can be done to improve their situation. Accessing advice is freely available. You may know about this help but does your neighbour or your granny? We would like people to signpost others towards the help and support that is available from this easy-to-remember free-phone number. On offer are checks to make sure people are receiving all their benefits and to make sure they are getting the cheapest energy possible, as well as substantial insulation and new central heating systems for some people."

Council Leader Councillor Michael Foxley, who chairs the Council’s Climate Change Working Group, said: "I would encourage everyone to contact the advice centre helpline as every bit of help to stay warm in winter is valuable. It can take time to organise some improvements – if you start now you’ll be ready for the colder days when they start in the autumn. As well as the Hotline, there are also local organisations out there who can help to give people face to face advice in their homes and organise any work which needs to be done. By calling the 0800 number you can also find out who is available in your local area to give this advice."

Centre Manager, for the Home Energy Scotland Hotline within the Highlands and Islands, Peter Rickard said: "We are delighted to be working closely with The Highland Council to tackle rising energy bills in the region. We are urging householders to act now before the winter bills impact. Call us now on 0800 512 012 and speak to one of our advisors to get free, impartial advice on how they can save energy and keep their bills as low as possible. Last year our advisors helped 20,400 people in Highland".

Calls from landlines are free. From a mobile call 0300 456 2655 to be charged at your local network rate.

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