People living across the Highlands are being given advice on who to turn to this winter if they’re struggling to heat their homes.
With rising prices and the recent collapse of several energy firms, Highland Council is concerned that many vulnerable people will be too worried about the bills to stay warm.
A dedicated in-house welfare support team can provide free and confidential advice to people worried about the cost of their energy.
The council’s team can also advise on support schemes and the various grants that are available to help money go further. Contact them through the welfare support section of the Highland Council website.
Help is out there
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) also has a team of energy advisors who can compare your current energy plan with others on the market. This can help source the best deal.
Alasdair Christie, general manager of Inverness Badenoch and Strathspey CAB said: “We are seeing a variety of people approaching us in distress over the fact that they can’t afford to pay their gas bills.
“Due to the rise in prices, a lot of people are concerned that the fixed deal they might have been on is coming to an end. They are then struggling to get decent rates for the future.
“The first thing we do is check their situation to find out if they are in receipt of all the benefits they are entitled to. We look at energy saving measures and how people use their fuel and where possible source a lower tariff for them.”
CAB has assisted several people who were with small energy providers before their collapse last month and have now been shifted onto one of the Big Six’s tarriffs.
Council leader Margaret Davidson, said: “The uncomfortable reality is that the withdrawal of both the £20 top-up to Universal Credit and furlough, and now a domestic energy crisis, will mean there will be Highland citizens who will be forced to choose between food or fuel this winter.
“The current situation demonstrates the pressing need for a strategic review of our energy supply, market and infrastructure.
“I would encourage Highland residents who are facing difficulty in meeting the cost of their fuel bills to reach out and take full advantage of the support available.
“We know that customers receiving this support often express the relief they feel, and the positive impacts on their wellbeing.