£1m East Lothian energy fund open for applications

£1m East Lothian energy fund open for applications

Back row - Eldon Woods (energy assessor, Community Windpower), Norman Hampshire (East Lothian Council leader), Paul McLennan MSP, Rob Lynch (site manager of Aikengall Windfarm).
Front row - Pamela Stewart (deputy chief executive, Advice Direct Scotland), Andrew Bartlett (chief executive, Advice Direct Scotland), Anouska Woods (community coordinator, Community Windpower) - Image credit Greg Macvean

A new £1 million energy fund to help residents in East Lothian heat their homes this winter has opened for applications.

The partnership between Community Windpower, Advice Direct Scotland and East Lothian Council is open to people in the county struggling with their bills.

This specific fund is supported directly from Community Windpower’s onshore wind farms near Aikengall.

Grant applications can be made by individuals through a new dedicated website while ‘referral partners’ such as the council, charities and local housing associations can apply on behalf of vulnerable people.

Anyone on means-tested benefits can apply directly, while referral partners can also act on behalf of anyone on a low income or facing financial hardship.

National charity Advice Direct Scotland, which also runs the Scottish Government’s Home Heating Support Fund, will make payments for electricity usage by issuing PayPoint or Post Office vouchers or send the money direct to the supplier for those with a credit meter.

Only one application can be made by, or on behalf of, a household – and in most cases a grant will be awarded for two months’ electricity use.

However, additional payments can be made based on individual circumstances, such as the number of children in a household or evidence of illness or disability.

The fund is not for historical debt and is due to run until the end of March 2023. It is over and above all existing national support available, including the UK Government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme.

Rod Wood, Community Windpower’s managing director, said: “We are delighted to open this energy funding scheme and contribute £1 million for local communities in East Lothian just when help is most needed, before the winter period.

“Scotland’s renewable energy future is bright with potentially 30-40 GW to be built to deliver energy security and the green hydrogen revolution and we would urge the Scottish renewables industry to follow our lead and commit to support vulnerable families across the whole of Scotland.

“This will deliver an additional £200m per annum into the Scottish economy as well as supporting the Scottish Government to insulate homes, provide low carbon heating systems, and create new jobs in the green energy sector.”

Pamela Stewart, deputy chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “This fund will provide thousands of households in East Lothian with hundreds of pounds towards their energy bills this winter.

“For many people, it will prevent them being forced to choose between heating and eating.

“We are proud to be administering this fund on behalf of Community Windpower, and our teams are ready to ensure people swiftly get the financial help being made available.”

East Lothian Council leader Norman Hampshire said: “The rising cost of living is having a real impact on people in communities around the country.

“The launch of the new energy fund is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the support available and very timely given the colder weather expected throughout the winter months.

“It complements the range of initiatives established by the council to help individuals and families in the county who are financially vulnerable at this challenging time.”

Paul McLennan, MSP for East Lothian, said: “After months of discussion with Community Windpower and East Lothian Council, I am extremely pleased to see applications for the East Lothian Energy Fund open.

“The fund comes at a time when those most affected by rising energy costs in East Lothian are most vulnerable.

“The support will make a huge difference this winter. It really is a game changer that I hope will go some way in preventing families from having to make a choice between a hot meal or heating their home.

“I commend Community Windpower and Advice Direct Scotland for their recognition of the need to go further to support people in the cost-of-living crisis and I hope to see similar schemes rolled out across Scotland.”

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