Pensioners - reduce fuel bills, increase income

BORDERS pensioners could increase their income by an average £1,680 a year, simply by checking that they are receiving the right benefits and by making sure they are accessing the lowest energy rates.

And it’s easy to do - just contact the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Scotland hotline 0800 512 012 or go on their website

The hotline number is a one stop shop where you can get help and expert advice on how to save energy and money in the home. And once they have done that if they have the customer’s permission staff will pass on their details to others who can help, such as the Department of Work and Pensions, to check whether you may be entitled to benefits that you are not claiming at the moment. If it turns out that you may be eligible for additional benefits then a member of DWP staff will call you back and help you fill in the form, and if necessary arrange a home visit.

Housing Minister Keith Brown said: “As we head towards 2012, European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, it is vital that our older people are accessing benefits due to them. We are talking about sizable amounts, which can make a real difference to the income our pensioners receive.

“Through the Home Energy Scotland Hotline our service includes energy efficiency advice. We want to help ensure that more money stays in our pensioners pockets by securing the best deals from the energy companies to heat their homes.

“Many people fail to claim for what they are entitled to in benefits and tax credits simply because they don’t know it’s there. We all have a job to do to make sure that older people across our communities know that there are services available to help maximise their income.”

Mike Thornton, director of the Energy Saving Trust, who deliver the Home Energy Scotland Hotline on behalf of the Scottish Government, added: “We have referred over 34,000 people for benefits checks and for those pensioners where the referral generates an increase in income, this averages £1,681 per household. Coupled with an average reduction of £130 in annual energy costs for those switching to social tariffs, receiving rebates or discounted rates, the one-stop shop through the Home Energy Scotland Hotline is continuing to help people most in need to save money.”

Through the Hotline annual fuel bills have already been reduced by almost £12 million since 2009, and heating measures provided for over 21,000 homes (complete systems and boilers).