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What is the £3m fund to help Scots struggling with their energy bills and how will the cash be paid out?

Energy costs are rocketing, putting pressure on many Scottish households.
Energy costs are rocketing, putting pressure on many Scottish households.

Rising energy and other household bills mean there are likely to be plenty of takers for a share of a new £3 million fund to help Scots who are struggling to make ends meet.

But what exactly is the Home Heating Support Fund (HHSF) and how will the cash be paid out?

Firstly, it important to know applications for this valuable support for those needing help with their energy bills cannot be made directly.

People must be referred for help, much in the same way a GP refers patients to specialists for  healthcare.

March 31 deadline

Applications must be from “referral partners”, such as your council or housing association, or perhaps charities and organisations providing energy or debt advice.

They are being urged to register online at www.homeheatingadvice.scot so they can seek funding for people they support by the fund application deadline of March 31.

Payments start at £100, rising to £500 to clear outstanding debt, with the money paid directly to suppliers on behalf of the household.

Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) is administering the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.

People must be referred for help, much in the same way a GP refers patients to specialists for  healthcare.”

Although people cannot apply directly for the help, they can make a request to be considered by calling ADS for free on 0808 800 9060 or by visiting www.advice.scot

Trained advisers will then assess their eligibility and refer them if appropriate.

The scheme is designed to prevent households falling into fuel poverty and help those “rationing” their energy use.

Last year a poll found that nearly one-third of Scots had rationed their energy use so they could afford to spend money on other goods and services.

With recent energy price rises and a further steep increase in bills expected in spring, there are growing concerns about the impact on households.

Targeted funding from the HHSF will reflect each person’s circumstances, with extra support available for households where one person is over 75, they rely on electric heating, or live in a remote or island community.

Although people cannot apply directly for the help, they can make a request to be considered by calling ADS for free on 0808 800 9060 or by visiting www.advice.scot”

ADS chief executive Andrew Bartlett said: “As the country recovers from the Covid pandemic and its economic impact, this fund will prove absolutely crucial in ensuring that households who have been hit the hardest can continue to heat their homes and feed their families.

“With recent energy prices rises and more on the horizon, we know that many Scots are facing financial difficulties.”

Any households which are “off-supply” are not eligible for the fund.

They should seek immediate support from energy suppliers or organisations who can refer them to the Fuel Bank Foundation, an independent charity helping to provide emergency heat and light to households on prepayment plans or using pre-paid meters.

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