Call to set up fuel poverty helpline for Dundee pen­sion­ers

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - STE­WART ALEXAN­DER

A pen­sion­ers’ rights cam­paigner has backed calls to in­tro­duce a ded­i­cated helpline to end fuel poverty in Dundee.

The Rev Erik Cramb from Dundee Pen­sion­ers’ Fo­rum said he sup­ports rec­om­men­da­tions laid out in a new re­port by Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Scot­land (CAS).

Ti­tled Hard Wired Prob­lems, the re­port re­veals that peo­ple who rely on elec­tric heat­ing are al­most twice as likely to live in fuel poverty as the pop­u­la­tion of Scot­land as a whole.

CAS has also warned that con­sumers are yet to see the im­pact of sig­nif­i­cant en­ergy price rises – which were higher for elec­tric­ity than gas – and be­lieve a ded­i­cated helpline would make a ma­jor dif­fer­ence to the prob­lem.

With the win­ter loom­ing, Mr Cramb, 78, be­lieves many city pen­sion­ers are “suf­fer­ing in si­lence” and will face the de­ci­sion whether to heat or eat.

He said: “Fuel poverty is a very se­ri­ous is­sue for pen­sion­ers.

“I have no doubt that we will be speak­ing to the city coun­cil about this very soon.

“On the whole, pen­sion­ers are pretty proud peo­ple and do not re­ally say that they are hav­ing to choose be­tween heat­ing and eat­ing.

“But we know that is hap­pen­ing through some of the con­ver­sa­tions we have seen and heard.

“A helpline like that would be very much wel­come be­cause I sus­pect there’s a lot of peo­ple suf­fer­ing in si­lence.”

The city coun­cil has spent more than £40 mil­lion across Dundee in a bid to make homes eas­ier to heat and keep warm.

A fur­ther £800,000 was pledged for the ex­ter­nal wall in­su­la­tion pro­gramme which is ex­pected to be com­pleted in April 2019.

In 2016, Dundee was named the most “fuel poor” city in the UK.

Craig Salter, en­ergy spokesman for CAS, said: “In some cases elec­tric­ity is the only source avail­able, as gas sup­ply pipes don’t reach their home.”

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