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Fuel bills - 'the key is to empower consumers to take control'

Citizens Advice Scotland have said people should be given clearer information on how to cut their fuel bills, as new figures* reveal that complaints about the ‘Big Six’ energy companies rose by 26% over the summer.

CAS spokesman Matt Lancashire said,

“Scottish CAB advisers have seen a big increase in the numbers of clients who are unable to cope with the rises in fuel bills, and there is no doubt that this is one of the biggest issues facing people on low incomes at the moment. Our advisers regularly see people who say they simply can’t afford to put the heating on, so they and their families are shivering in their own homes this Christmas. That is unacceptable, and needs to be fixed.

“That’s why, over the last few weeks, we have been taking the case of such people direct to Ministers and energy company bosses at a series of summit meetings in London and Edinburgh. These meetings have already seen the energy companies commit to providing clearer information to customers about how they can save money on their fuel bills. And in January we will be holding a special week of advice and information to make clear to people how they can take control and cut their bills.

“For us in the CAB service, the key is to give people clear information, empowering them to take action themselves. Many of those who come to the CAB about this issue say they’ve heard they can save money by switching suppliers or getting help with insulation, but that they find all the information confusing and don’t know how to go about it or who to trust. So our ‘Big Energy Week’** - starting in mid January - will be aimed at providing simple, clear advice to anyone across the country, about how to cut their bills simply and easily.

“We’re working hard now to put together all the materials, leaflets etc that will make sure the week has a big impact. But of course in the meantime anyone who needs advice on their fuel bills can get it from their local CAB. Our advice is free, confidential and completely impartial.”

For more information, interviews etc please contact Tony Hutson on 07774 751655.