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Scottish Rural Communities Benefit from Fuel Poverty Grant

Over 200 residents in rural homes across Scotland will be cosier this winter after the success of an initiative set-up to combat fuel poverty.

Edinburgh-based RSABI, the charity behind the project, is celebrating after significantly reducing fuel poverty numbers in isolated homes across the country.

Since 2006, The ScottishPower Energy People Trust has ploughed almost £50,000 into the project – the RSABI Fuel Poverty Fund.

RSABI was founded in 1897 as The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution and set-up to help Scottish tenant farmers and their dependents who were in need. The charity has now extended a helping hand to all distressed people who have worked on the land in rural areas across Scotland.

The project first received a financial boost from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust in August 2006 to initially cover a year’s activity aiming to provide crisis funding to highly vulnerable clients struggling with fuel bills. The initiative also offered benefit health checks to customers and a check to ensure that all eligible energy grants were being applied for.

After the impressive results from the initial year, the project reapplied for additional funding from the Trust in July 2007 and was successfully awarded a further £34,500 to extend the initiative for another year, finishing up in the summer of 2008.

The ScottishPower Energy People Trust was established in November 2005 to fund not-for-profit organisations that help vulnerable people including families, young people, the disabled and the elderly who need to spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills.

Ann Loughrey, ScottishPower’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and The ScottishPower Energy People Trust’s Company Secretary said:

“Fuel poverty affects so many households across the country, especially during the colder months, and it’s important that people affected are aware of the wide range of grants available to help them avoid the problem.

“We’re really impressed with the success of the RSABI Fuel Poverty Fund and are confident that the service has made a real impact on the lives of the 233 people to benefit.

“The Trust was set up specifically to award funds to projects dealing directly with vulnerable people and RSABI has proved that this is the most successful way to help alleviate fuel poverty across the country.”

The project’s crisis fund was used to pay fuel bills for people experiencing severe hardship and who were classed as living in fuel poverty. These payments were made directly to fuel providers, when possible.

John Macfarlane, Welfare Manager at RSABI, said:

“We are entirely confident that this initiative has alleviated fuel poverty in isolated households across Scotland, who would otherwise have severely struggled to cope. We are most grateful to the ScottishPower Energy People Trust for that.”

“Due to the success of the Trust’s funding, the RSABI Fuel Poverty Fund is continuing to assist vulnerable people - particularly older people - living in fuel poverty over the winter period through the Plough Scotland initiative.

“The project kicked off in October last year and has recently finished, successfully raising funds over the difficult winter period. The initiative aimed to plough between 12 and 15 acres in every one of Scotland’s 33 traditional counties before Christmas and we’ve achieved that. We’re still tallying up totals, but we’re confident that donations will be high thanks to contributions from members of the public and companies like Wiseman Dairies and Diageo.”

So far, the ScottishPower Energy People Trust has awarded over £4.5m to 103 projects helping over 243,000 individuals in over 105,000 households throughout Britain.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009