A new £140,000 initiative has been launched to help tackle fuel poverty in vulnerable homes in the north of Scotland.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and Citizens Advice Scotland will provide four specialist advisors to operate at local bureaus, providing in-depth energy advice.
They are expected to be in post at citizens advice bureaus by the end of the month in Shetland, the Western Isles, south-west Aberdeenshire and East and Central Sutherland.
According to stats published last week by Cornwall Insight found energy distribution costs in northern Scotland were 45% higher than the UK average due to less access to the gas network.
This equates to around £100 more on distribution alone.
Customers in this region are also reliant on more expensive fuels like heating oil.
Managing director of SSEN, Colin Nicol, 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.”
The partnership will last for a year, fully-funded by SSEN.
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.”