SSEN and Citizens Advice Scotland launch new local energy advisor programme
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have joined forces to launch a £140,000 energy adviser programme to support vulnerable households and help reduce fuel poverty in the north of Scotland.
The first-of its-kind partnership, fully-funded by SSEN, will see four specialist energy advisers recruited to operate in local Scottish Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABs) providing in-depth, holistic and bespoke energy advice.
Following a competitive process, which included a review of fuel poverty statistics and SSEN’s vulnerability maps, CABs in Shetland, Western Isles, South West Aberdeenshire and East and Central Sutherland have received funding, with advisers expected to be in post by the end of this month.
The four CABs represent a wide geographic coverage with high levels of fuel poverty worsened by challenges caused by geography and rurality.
The support given by the advisers will include energy efficiency advice, referrals to the Warm Home Discount Scheme, supplier switching advice, referrals to Home Energy Scotland for loans, grants and incentives, resolving billing issues, benefits checks and referring eligible customers to SSEN’s Priority Services Register.
The partnership will last for a year, with delivery supported by well-established local partnerships already in place throughout the CAB network. SSEN is to provide training and support on energy issues to the advisers.
Colin Nicol, Managing Director, SSEN, said:
“Addressing the issue of fuel poverty is something that will require continued collaboration and co-ordination, and, at SSEN, we are determined to play our part. I’m delighted to be able to launch this partnership and look forward to working closely with Citizens Advice Scotland to ensure the most vulnerable receive effective and impartial energy advice.
“Although providing advice may seem like a small step, the benefits that can be unlocked for the most vulnerable are significant. I’ve every confidence that by working in partnership with CAS, we can help those in fuel poverty access the critical support and assistance they require.”
Derek Mitchell, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said:
“The Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps thousands of clients every year with issues relating to energy. We see on the front line the anxiety and stress that is caused when people struggle to pay bills and keep their homes warm. We also know that fuel poverty is a particular issue in the North of Scotland.
“We are very happy to be working with SSEN to help support CABs to deliver holistic frontline advice to help those who are in fuel poverty. We know how valuable bespoke advice is to people and by working with partners this programme will help to deliver real positive outcomes.”
 SSEN’s customer mapping tool provides social and economic insights to help SSEN plan and target activity to ensure its customer needs are met. The mapping uses Data Zones to divide the country into roughly equal numbers of people or households, providing accurate and valuable demographic and social needs information for the network area SSEN serves. It is used as a mechanism for enhanced communications, customer support, welfare and investment decisions.