AS the winter months loom on the horizon, many people in Devon are concerned about how they will meet their energy bills as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.
Citizens Advice is launching a new campaign to encourage take-up of the Energy Relief Scheme, which can provide up to £100 towards meeting energy bills for those struggling to pay their supplier.
Citizens Advice Torridge, North, Mid and West Devon Chief Executive, Vicki Rowe, said: “Last year, local Citizens Advice offices across Devon helped thousands of people with emergency funds through the fuel voucher scheme, and this year, the government is unlikely to provide the £400 support grant that all households received towards their bills.
“Anyone in arrears, with energy debts or struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills is eligible for help and can contact their local Citizens Advice for help.”
The average energy bill is expected to be around £1,900 with the government’s Energy Price Cap in place, but the average debt of those who contacted Citizens Advice for help with energy bills so far this year was £1,711.
A total of 46,431 people across the country with energy debts contacted the charity for advice in the first six months of 2023, a 17 per cent increase on the same period last year.
Citizens Advice Torridge, North, Mid and West Devon Energy Project Lead, Caroline Sparke, said: “We would urge people to seek help at an early stage, when they see their bills are going to be unaffordable. No-one should be suffering in the cold at home when help is available.”
The energy vouchers are being provided as part of the government’s Household Support Fund, administered by Devon County Council and is only available for residents in the Devon County Council area, which excludes Plymouth and Torbay.
For free, confidential, independent and impartial advice from Citizens Advice Torridge, North, Mid and West Devon call the charity’s local (freephone) Adviceline: 0808 27 87 999
If you need help with bills mounting up and are worried about debt, please visit: https://ruraldevoncab.org.uk/debt-and-money-advice/
If you are unsure that you are getting the correct benefits, please visit: https://citizensadviceruraldevon.entitledto.co.uk/home/start