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Heat Fund launched for off grid homes

March 8, 2021

Fuel Bank Foundation has launched a new emergency Heat Fund for homes not connected to the gas grid.

The charity is partnering with the Scottish Government to pilot the scheme, which provides financial support for households in remote or rural locations reliant on solid fuel.

In Scotland, there are currently around 500,000 homes (21 per cent of all households) which rely on coal, wood, heating oil or LPG to heat their properties.

Unlike electricity and mains gas supply, which are regulated and offer consumers a level of price and supply protection, the solid fuel market is currently unregulated, leaving consumers exposed to higher fuel costs, with oil prices fluctuating on a daily basis. A single delivery of oil and gas can also cost £300 (minimum).

Through the Heat Fund, eligible households i.e. those living without heat because they can’t afford to buy fuel to fill their coal bunker, wood store, LPG bottles or heating oil tank or those imminently at risk of running out of fuel can apply for an emergency delivery.

Consumers who are off the gas grid and rely on heating oil or LPG have to pre-pay in advance for a bulk delivery of fuel, which can be expensive. As a result, people already struggling financially are more likely to ration or put off refilling their gas or oil tank, leaving them without heat and hot water and cooking capability. Until now, support for households that are off supply has been very limited. The Heat Fund addresses this issue and until proper regulation is introduced for the solid fuel market provides a lifeline for vulnerable consumers. If the pilot scheme proves successful in Scotland our aim is to roll it out in England and Wales.
Matthew Cole, Fuel Bank Foundation chair of trustees

The pilot scheme is being supported by the Scottish Government’s Winter Support Programme which includes up to £7m to help households struggling with energy costs. Fuel Bank Foundation has been awarded £444,500 from the fund to help vulnerable families in Scotland heat their homes, including those who use solid fuel and those with prepayment gas and/or electricity meters.

The Heat Fund is administered by Fuel Bank Foundation via its network of 25 Fuel Bank Centres across Scotland.