More than 400 charities, organisations and advisers have signed up to refer Scots struggling with energy bills to a £4m support fund.
The Home Heating Support Fund has been created by the Scottish Government and aims to help people struggling with price hikes.
Charities, housing associations, and community organisations which provide energy or debt advice, are encouraged to register online so that they can seek funding for people they support.
Extra support is available for the disabled, people living with an illness, those living in a remote or island community and over 75s.
Payments start at £100 and can rise to £1000 to clear outstanding debt, with money paid directly to suppliers on behalf of the household.
Eligibility is based on households which are deliberately linuring their energy use so they can afford to spend money on other goods or services.
One organisation that has helped struggling households is THAW Orkney, who has secured individual grants averaging £350 to dozens of households since the fund opened in December.
Rachael Taylor received £350 towards her energy bill through the organisation after the cost of her electricity more than doubled in the winter months, leaving her having to choose between heating her home or refuelling her car.
“My bills in winter absolutely sky-rocket, they go from around £100 a month to £250 a month,” the 31-year-old said.
“I don’t have my heating turned up, I have very little heating on in my house and tend to grab a jumper and a couple of blankets when it gets chilly.
“[The fund] puts my head above water financially and means I don’t have to stress over where it’s all going.”
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland who are delivering the scheme, said: “Since launching the scheme, more than 400 referral partners have registered and we’re receiving hundreds of applications on behalf of their clients who are struggling with energy bills.
“This demonstrates the scale of the cost-of-living crisis.
“But we know there are more people out there who need support, so we encourage any charities, housing associations, or community organisations which provide energy or debt advice to register with us.
“This fund will prove absolutely crucial in ensuring that households who have been hit the hardest can continue to heat their homes and feed their families.”
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