The Scottish Government has allocated a £30m fund intended to stem fuel insecurity during the cost-of-living crisis.
Early in his tenure, First Minister Humza Yousaf announced he would increase the fuel insecurity fund to £30m for this year.
This came after a previous announcement from former deputy first minister John Swinney that £20m set aside for an independence referendum would be used to boost funding from £10 million, with the new incumbent increasing the pot.
Energy minister Gillian Martin announced on Tuesday how the fund would be allocated, including providing £9m for home heating support fund grants to offer immediate relief for families struggling with rising prices, with the cash to be administered by Advice Direct Scotland.
A further £8.5m will be given to the Fuel Bank Foundation, which helps about 85,000 households struggling with fuel insecurity, while £7.25m will be given to the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, with a target of providing more than 55,000 households with support, advice and energy saving items.
The Wise Group will also be provided with £5m to offer one-to-one mentoring to households.
Speaking during a visit to Advice Direct Scotland’s headquarters in Glasgow, Ms Martin said: “The fuel insecurity fund has been and continues to be a direct lifeline for many thousands of households, which is why the First Minister acted swiftly and decisively to triple the fund to £30m this year.
“We want to support even more people facing unprecedented rises in the cost of energy.
“Whilst the key energy policy levers remain with the UK Government, one of our interdependent missions as a Government is to tackle poverty and protect people from the impact of the current cost-of-living crisis, which is why we have taken this action.
“The UK Government has continually failed to take the necessary steps to support people now and make the necessary changes – which only it can take – to ensure households and businesses never experience an energy crisis like this again.
“This includes reversing its decision to end the energy bills support scheme and making essential reforms to the energy market so the link between the price of electricity and the cost of gas is permanently broken.”
The announcement comes just 24 hours after an anti-poverty summit is convened by the First Minister, one of his key pledges during the SNP leadership campaign, which is set to hear from those with experience of poverty and experts in the field.
Conor Forbes, the director of business development and policy at Advice Direct Scotland, said the body was “delighted” to be working with the Scottish Government on the funding, stressing the importance of those struggling with fuel costs to reach out for support.
Sean Duffy, chief executive officer of Wise Group, said it was “great to see” the Government taking action on poverty, pledging to take a “personalised approach to support each household in a way that supports sustainable change”.