Energy Best Deal+ is a pilot CAB project which aims to support people in, or at risk of, fuel poverty. There are nine bureaux in Scotland taking part in the pilot and outreach work is also taking place in Edinburgh. The pilot has been running for four weeks and has produced superb results for the clients involved, on a number of fronts.
It has long been recognised that Citizens Advice Bureaux are a gateway to a 'hard to reach' demographic, including many vulnerable and older people. These are often people who are likely to be living in fuel poverty and perhaps unaware of, or willing to access, the help and support available to them through their energy supplier or the Scottish Government.
The Energy Best Deal+ project has underlined the ability of bureaux to reach and assist these types of clients and record significantly positive outcomes for them. Bureaux participating in the project have helped more than 200 clients to access over £35,500 over the last five weeks. This client financial gain has been obtained through discounts, savings and free energy efficiency assistance, including a complete new central heating system, fully installed and worth £10,000, for one client. 80% of clients have discovered that they are entitled to claim the Warm Home Discount, a £130 reduction on their energy bill. 70% have also been added to the Priority Service Register, a list which entitled those of a pensionable age, a disability or long term health condition to many free services provided by their energy supplier, including special controllers and adapters to make gas and electrical outlets easier to use and free gas safety checks.
Many clients have also been referred to their energy supplier or the Energy Savings Trust for free or discounted cavity wall, loft and solid wall insulation. The financial benefits of insulation have not been recorded for this pilot but each insulated home can save up to around £200 on their annual energy bill. Another valuable gain for our clients.
How does it work? Participating CAB look at a client's personal circumstances, check their eligibility for various benefits and discounts and then call the clients supplier on their behalf. This helps clients who are not confident on the phone or unhappy about speaking to their energy supplier. The majority of clients have felt less worried about affording their energy bills and more confident about speaking to their energy supplier following their session with the CAB. The service can also be accessed over the telephone; once the CAB has checked what the client is entitled to, they will ask their energy supplier to call them at a time that they choose, rather than making the call on their behalf. This is a quicker process for more confident clients.
There are four weeks left of the pilot and a lot more clients we can help. If you recognise a person who may benefit from this scheme please do refer them on. You can see which bureaux are taking part by following the link below.