Through our Rural Affordable Warmth project, we have been working with local Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) in the Highlands to help residents living in fuel poverty maximise their income, heat their homes affordably, and lower carbon emissions. 

At the halfway point in the 6-month pilot, we had already supported 273 people, and achieved a fantastic £158,500 in financial savings, greatly exceeding initial financial savings targets. It’s expected that up to 450 people will benefit by the end of the pilot. 

How does the project work?

Changeworks’ Affordable Warmth Advisors and CAB Income Maximisation Advisors work together to provide a holistic support package to people who would benefit from our joint expertise. 

Anna Scott, Change Works Affordable Warmth Advisor, told us: 

“Working in partnership with the CAB has helped us to connect with people who can benefit from our support so that we can help look at ways to reduce heating costs and make their homes warmer.”


Why are we using this approach? 

In-depth support and advocacy are the most effective way to make a real impact and best support vulnerable people living in fuel poverty. Because different people have different needs, offering a range of support options including home visits and drop-in surgeries means we can assist more people. 

The joint approach helps advisors do even more to ensure clients are in receipt of all the benefits they are entitled to, and build their life skills and confidence to live in affordably warm homes. 

Alasdair Christie, General Manager of Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey CAB told us: 

“This is a welcome opportunity to work together to provide co-ordinated benefit entitlement advice and energy advice. Clients are already telling us they feel more in control of their energy usage and that thanks to the CAB advisor, they are financially better off. Overall, the success of Rural Affordable Warmth so far clearly demonstrates the power of partnership working to improve lives.”


What are the results?

Mr C: from fuel debt to financial gain

After a visit from the Affordable Warmth Advisor, 90-year-old Mr C and his wife discovered they were in fuel debt due to estimated billing. The Advisors helped them install smart meters and access a range of financial benefits, including a Warm Home Discount, a higher rate of Attendance Allowance, and winter payment funding from the local authority. As a result, the couple has gained nearly £10,000 a year.

Mr B: small changes lead to big savings

When Mr B moved into a new build local authority property with his family, he was unfamiliar with the Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) heating system, resulting in high electricity bills. Highland Council Community Services referred Mr B to the Rural Affordable Warmth project for advice. The Affordable Warmth Advisor showed him how to use the ASHP, reduce thermostat settings and use his thermostatic radiator valves more effectively. As a result, Mr B’s electricity costs have dropped from £7.50 a day to £4.50 a day, leaving more disposable income for other essentials. 

The pilot is initially running in Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey, and Ross and Cromarty, with industry initiatives funding from SSE and Scottish Power. 

For more information about Rural Affordable Warmth, please contact Kirsten Cook, Changeworks’ Affordable Warmth Team Manager or call 0131 555 4010.