Glasgow has launched its Home Energy Advice Team - G.HEAT – that will provide advice and support on energy related issues to the city’s fuel poor households, in their homes.
Established by Glasgow City Council through the city’s Fuel Poverty Partnership, the advice team will provide householders with advice on all energy related matters and be able to refer them on to partner agencies that can provide specialist advice on a wide range of financial issues.
Key partners include the Wise Group, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, with funding coming from the Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Power Energy People Trust.
Advice will cover such things as the most cost effective use of heating and hot water systems, suggestions on energy saving measures for the home such as insulation and energy saving white goods, understanding fuel bills, obtaining the best tariffs from utility companies and offering an advocacy service for householders dealing with utility companies.
This guidance and support will be delivered in a number of ways including through ‘surgeries’ at various existing advice outlets such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Money Advice, Credit Unions and Housing Association offices, as well as through referrals by Glasgow Advice Information Network, Social Work Services, Community Planning and social housing providers.
Members of G.HEAT will also visit community groups and make home visits to provide face-to-face advice that is crucial when dealing with potentially complex problems associated with bills and energy use.
G.HEAT will provide a service to all householders in the city regardless of tenure. It will be run on a day-to-day basis by the Wise Group, who will manage the project and employ the eight strong team including six full-time advisors covering the city.
The project will run initially for three years and may continue beyond this time if income streams can be developed to allow the project to become largely self sustaining.
Councillor George Ryan, executive member for business and the economy, said: “We know that fuel poverty is a major issue for the city and have been developing strategic measures that can offer a sustainable road out of that trap for our most vulnerable households.
"Due to the economic slump, unemployment and reduced family incomes we have estimated that there could be around 105,000 households in the city experiencing fuel poverty and this is totally unacceptable.
"The launch of G.HEAT is a major step to eradicating fuel poverty and I’m pleased that so many agencies across the city have come together to take action.”
Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said: “I very much welcome the creation of this advice team. It is important that those people in Glasgow affected by fuel poverty receive the best possible advice and assistance.
"Nationwide, through the Energy Assistance Package, the Scottish Government is providing over £60 million a year to assist more people in Scotland than ever before.
"The right help is available to everyone who needs it including the elderly and young families.”
Ann Loughrey trustee of the Scottish Power Energy People Trust, said: “The Scottish Power Energy People Trust is delighted to support this unique project and has awarded £100,000 to provide much needed assistance to fuel poor households across Glasgow.”
Laurie Russell, Chief Executive of the Wise Group, added: “The Wise Group is delighted to be part of this innovative, partnership approach to helping alleviate fuel poverty and reduce the environmental impact of people across Glasgow. G.HEAT complements a wide range of energy efficiency services the Wise Group provides to individuals, households and communities.”
G.HEAT has launched a free phone telephone number for anyone concerned about their energy bills. To contact the team call 0800 092 9002. For further information, visit www.g-heat.org.uk.
Notes to Editors
People in fuel poverty can be defined as those households that spend more than 10% of their disposable income on their total domestic energy costs. This includes not only heating bills but energy used for lighting, cooking, washing etc.
Extreme fuel poverty can be defined as those households that spend more than 20% of their disposable income on their total domestic energy costs.
Initial funding for G.HEAT has come from Glasgow City Council, Fairer Scotland Fund, the Scottish Government’s Wider Role for Housing Associations funding, Scottish Power Energy People’s Trust.
The face-to-face advice service will rolled out across the city from the beginning of April although the free phone telephone number and website are now live.