Energy advice partnership to generate £1m for families facing mounting bills

Energy advice partnership to generate £1m for families facing mounting bills

A new partnership between Children 1st and gas distribution network SGN could see around £1 million generated for families facing spiralling energy bills through targeted energy advice and support.

The charity has received an investment of just over £370,000 from SGN after recognising a growing need to provide targeted energy advice through their financial wellbeing service.

Figures show families with children face bills that are, on average, 30% higher than other households. The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has seen many families plunged into crisis, with children at higher risk of poverty. Rising costs within households are outstripping the impact of additional support such as the Scottish Child Payment.

SGN’s £370,000 investment as part of the partnership will enable Children 1st to employ energy advisors across Glasgow and Ayrshire where support is needed most. They will support families with issues such as managing energy costs and budgeting for energy bills. Families can also get help to resolve energy debts and find better tariffs and sign up to the Priority Services Register. Emergency support can also be provided to families who are in urgent need.

Children 1st expects that by helping families manage problematic energy debts and generating income through successful grant awards and unclaimed benefits, approximately £1m will be put back into families’ pockets.

One family with young children were deeply distressed by their rising bills and sought support from Children 1st who were able to reduce their energy debt and supported the family to apply for £1,500 from the home heating fund towards energy costs.

Another family panicked after receiving notice from their energy supplier that their bills would be increasing to almost £400 per month. With only one full time income and universal credit coming into the household, this increase would put the family into financial hardship, causing crippling fear and anxiety for them. The financial wellbeing team were able to advocate on the family’s behalf to lower the amount based on what the family could afford. Some financial wellbeing team members have told of families cutting off their own energy supplies because the costs were simply too high.

With the investment from SGN, advisors will be able to support families to use energy safely and efficiently, with free carbon monoxide alarms available to families who need them.

Linda Jardine, director of children’s services for Children 1st said: “We are glad to see this vital investment being made in our financial wellbeing service.

“Children are already at a disproportionately higher risk of poverty as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. It is now one of the biggest issues we are dealing with for children. We have a proven track record of supporting children and families. Last year, our financial wellbeing service helped over 1,400 children by generating more than £1.5 million in unclaimed benefits for their families.

“Children sleep better, they are healthier, they can concentrate better at school and their development is better supported if their families are able to pay the rent, put food on the table and keep their homes warm.”

Families struggling with rising energy bills can contact Children 1st’s Parentline on 08000 28 22 33 or by visiting its website to discuss how the team could offer advice and support.

Margaret Hamilton, community partnership manager in SGN’s Social Impact & Vulnerability Team, said: “We’re proud to be supporting Children 1st in their ambition to make sure every Scottish child can live safe and well in their homes. Helping them to fund more expert advisors means families in Scotland are able to benefit from their knowledge and guidance, allowing more children to stay safe and warm.”

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