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How do you deal with rising fuel bills? Moray charity Reap gives answers to growing concerns

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A Moray charity is running a workshop in Elgin to help people with fuel debt as many feel the pinch of rising energy bills.

Rural Environmental Action Project (Reap) is offering advice on dealing with fuel debt in Elgin.

Reap is a Keith-based charity helping residents across Moray tackle food and fuel poverty.

They provide anybody from Moray with free and impartial home energy advice and help people understand their bills and usage.

Jenni Marchant, an energy advisor for Reap, explained that the workshop in Elgin will provide general advice that almost everyone will find relevant.

The advisors will discuss the causes of fuel debt, the first steps to tacking it, and giving advice about speaking to suppliers.

Reap will advise people on how to be more energy efficient. Picture by Steve Parsons/PA Wire.

They will also cover understanding meters, tariffs and bills, as well as hints and tips to create good energy behaviours.

Attendees will have the opportunity to have a one-to-one session with the energy advisors after to ask more specific questions about their own personal circumstances.

Mrs Marchant said: “At the moment, the model we’ve put together just now is specifically looking at fuel debt, so people that have already got fuel debt, or people that are worried that they might go into fuel debt.

“But that’s not to say you wouldn’t get something out of the workshop if you came along because you didn’t have any.”

Fuel poverty is ‘inevitable’ for some

According to Mrs Marchant, fuel poverty is a “big issue” in Moray due to it being a rural region with a lot of stone-built properties making homes harder to heat.

Throughout the pandemic, the charity delivered energy advice over the phone to anyone who needed it. Because of Covid, the charity saw a “significant increase” in the need for their service.

Mrs Marchant believes that more people across the area will continue needing to access their help following the energy price cap increase.

According to the most recent figures the charity has available, it is thought that 32% of households in Moray are in fuel poverty, with 19% in extreme fuel poverty.

She said: “It was much more likely that with Covid more people were going to be in fuel poverty, and now with these price rises it is inevitable.

“There will be people that were already in fuel poverty that will just be in even worse situations, and there will be more people that were not in fuel poverty or borderline, and there will be even people who probably never thought that’s something they would have to think about that would also be affected.

“It was never a small number in the first place, and it’s going to be even bigger now.”

Reaching as many people as possible

She explained the service Reap provides is “vital” to residents across Moray and the charity started holding workshops to try reach as many people in the area who may be struggling with their energy bills as possible.

The workshop will help people understand their energy bills and tariffs to tackle fuel debt. Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The first workshop was held in Forres last month, and the team is planning to host one in a different town each month to ensure their help is accessible to all.

Mrs Marchant added: “This doesn’t stop us from doing over-the-phone support as well, because there will be, for a multitude of reasons, people that the workshops won’t work for.

“But it’s about us being able to offer different models of advice so we can reach as many people as we can because that’s what we’re trying to do – get to as many people in Moray that need the help.”

The workshop is being held at the Elgin Town Hall and will begin at 12.3opm on Tuesday, April 26 and booking is essential.

If you are worried about energy bills or fuel debt, you can contact Reap on 01542 888070 or visit their website for advice and helpful links.