Angus MacDonald MSP says ‘Help with debt is available’
Monday, 26 January 2015 16:31
With Debt Awareness Week taking place next week, Angus MacDonald MSP, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Falkirk East, has today called on his constituents to ensure they are taking advantage of free help and support available for anyone struggling with winter energy bills.
Angus MacDonald said: “Nobody should suffer in silence and there is a range of help and advice for any constituents who are having problems paying their energy or other household bills.”
“I want all my constituents to understand what help is available for them. Keeping on top of winter bills and managing debt is so important and I urge anyone in my Falkirk East constituency, to get in touch with their energy supplier to find out what support is on offer. “
Scottish Gas does more than any other energy supplier to help those who are struggling with their debt. In 2013, Scottish Gas spent more than £380 million helping 1.8 vulnerable households with discounts, free insulation and benefits advice.
The company has a successful partnership with StepChange Debt Charity – organisers of Debt Awareness Week - which helps customers by offering manageable payment plans for their energy and other household debts.
It also funds The Scottish Gas Energy Trust - an independent charitable trust set up 10 years ago. British Gas has provided the Trust with £75million to help people living in fuel poverty. The Trust provides grants to help with energy arrears as well as a wide range of advice and is open to everyone, not just Scottish Gas customers.
Other support that Scottish Gas provides includes flexible payment plans, referral to the Warm Home Discount scheme which gives eligible customers a £140 discount on their electricity bill, and identifying if customers are eligible for free insulation or boiler replacements.
To register for extra help, customers or someone acting on their behalf should call 0800 072 8625 (or 0800 294 8604 if they have a Pay As You Go meter).
In addition, Falkirk Council’s debt advice team are on hand to help.
Free, confidential and impartial help and advice is available from the dedicated team on all types of debt including rent and mortgage arrears, council tax, personal loans, credit cards, store cards and payday loans. The team can help people with their options if they face losing their home or being taken to court over money.
People begin to worry about post-Christmas debt towards the end of January and the last Monday of the month has been dubbed the most depressing day of the year. Debt advice charity Stepchange claims that the day, known as ‘Blue Monday’, kicks off the busiest time of year for debt advisors.
Falkirk Council’s Debt Advice Team can help with a wide range of options for dealing with debt including:
- Reduced payment – if you have cash after paying for food, fuel and housing costs, an officer can contact creditors with an offer of affordable payments
- Debt Payment Plan (Debt Arrangement Scheme) – this is a Scottish Government scheme which prevents creditors taking legal action against you. Interest on the money owed is frozen and you repay the debt in full over a longer period.
- Bankruptcy – a last resort for debt problems that can mean debts are written off if you owe more than £1500. At present there are two routes into bankruptcy
- Low Income Low Asset (LILA) where your gross income must be less than £260 per week or
- Certificate of sequestration. If your income is higher a certificate can be signed to allow your bankruptcy to go ahead
- Other Options include Protected Trust Deeds, Token Payments, Moratorium, Mortgage to Rent
There are also three Citizen Advice Bureaux throughout the local area that can offer debt advice and support.
Or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau:
Denny and Dunipace
Tel. 01324 823118
Tel. 01324 626070
Grangemouth and Bo’ness
Tel. 01324 483467