Media Release: Charity helps families take action on fuel poverty

FAMILIES in the Lothians who have children with disabilities are looking forward to a cosier winter, thanks to a vital project run by a local charity.

Voluntary organisation, The Action Group, received almost £100,000 from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust back in June 2008 to fund a project that aimed to pull vulnerable families in Edinburgh and the Lothians out of fuel poverty.

The charity provides a range of services for people with learning disabilities and support needs, as well as their carers.

Nearly 18 months on, the initiative – the Fuel Poverty Income Maximisation Project for Disabled Children – has been a huge success, generating almost £250,000 additional income for families at risk.

Ann Loughrey, ScottishPower’s head of Corporate Social Responsibility and The ScottishPower Energy People Trust’s company secretary said:

“According to Capability Scotland Research, over 40 per cent of parents with disabled children have higher fuel bills, leading to greater levels of fuel poverty.

“We are delighted that The Action Group has helped provide vital savings for families affected by the issue, especially as we head into the colder months.

“The charity does a fantastic job of reaching out to those in need, offering them help and support to ensure they are able to live comfortably and in a warm home.”

A full-time family advisor was recruited using the funding to work with families who have disabled children to provide advice on maximising their income through benefit entitlements. The advisor has also been ensuring that each family has access to energy efficiency advice.

When necessary, the advisor will make home visits to those who require assistance. Many of those in need are referred to The Action Group by other voluntary organisations, such as VOCAL (Voices of Carers across the Lothians), Downs Syndrome Society Scotland and the Lothian Councils.

Jo Kirby, advice service manager at The Action Group, said:

“There is evidence to suggest that the costs of raising a child with disabilities may be trebled, leaving many families facing poverty and social exclusion. Parents who have children with disabilities are also more likely to have higher fuel bills, which can result in significant levels of fuel poverty.

“Our aim is to assist as many families who have children with learning disabilities and  additional support needs in the area as we can. We are delighted to have beaten our original target of generating £150,000 of income for families at risk and to have successfully lifted at least16 families out of fuel poverty.”


For more information contact:

Gillian Hamilton at The BIG Partnership, on 0141 333 9585 / 07734 656 676 or email

For more information on The Action Group please contact Jo Kirby on 0131 475 2315

Note to Editors:

  • ScottishPower has published its CSR Annual Review 2008 online. Following feedback from its stakeholders, this year’s Review is very much led by the community groups ScottishPower works with. To hear first hand from them as they tell their story about working with the company, tune in to ScottishPower’s innovative CSR TV station at:
  • The ScottishPower Energy People Trust does not provide funding directly to individuals but provides funding to not for profit organisations which represent the vulnerable/fuel poor. People described as living in fuel poverty are those who spend more than ten per cent of their income on energy bills.
  • The decisions on the awards to organisations are made independent of ScottishPower by the Board of Trustees of the charity.
  • To apply for a grant from The ScottishPower Energy People Trust, log onto  or email or call 0141 568 4727.
  • The ScottishPower Energy People Trust is just one of a number of ScottishPower initiatives which assist some of the UK’s most vulnerable people. As well as working closely with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, ScottishPower employs Community Liaison Officers who visit people in their homes. The energy supplier has also insulated thousands of homes across the UK through its Energy Efficiency Commitment.
  • ScottishPower has delivered 70 per cent of its Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT). This means that ScottishPower has now installed energy efficiency measures equivalent to insulating over 580,000 homes across the country. CERT – which came into effect on 1 April 2008 and is due to run until 2011 – is an obligation on energy suppliers to achieve targets for promoting reductions in carbon emissions in homes across the UK. 40 per cent of the CERT spend is directed towards customers believed to be the most vulnerable therefore also making a contribution to eradicating fuel poverty.
  • In the Ofgem Monitoring suppliers’ social programmes 2007-08 December 2008, The Energy People Trust was identified as implementing best practice by providing support to trusted third party intermediaries and organisations to target assistance to those in fuel poverty, particularly those who are the most difficult to identify and hardest-to-reach.
  • Established in November 2005, the ScottishPower Energy People Trust provides vital funding for not-for-profit organisations that help vulnerable people including families, young people, the disabled and the elderly, who need to spend more than ten per cent of their income on energy bills.
  • To date, the Trust has awarded over £6m to 125 projects helping over 400,000 individuals in over 250,000 households throughout Britain.

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Contact: Gillian Hamilton
Phone: 0141 333 9585