As weather experts are forecasting, Scotland could to be set for a cold winter this year. Despite the dream of a white Christmas sounding romantic, the reality is that these conditions disrupt so many aspects of our daily lives and can often have added financial costs. We thought it might be helpful to put together some information on the support available to help you get through the winter and share some of our top tips!
There are a variety of ways in which you can get financial help. The Government and energy companies offer a range of schemes, payments or other sources. For more information on any of the schemes below, call the Disability Information Scotland helpline on 0300 323 9961.
A Government programme that provides rebates on the electricity bills of households that need it most. For winter 2016 to 2017, you could get up to £140 one-off discount off your electricity bill.
If you are eligible for the discount, you’ll get a letter before the 16th of December telling you whether or not you need to apply for the discount. If you do not automatically qualify you will be asked to make an application. The letter will tell you to apply by 28th February 2017 and how to do it.
However if you don’t get a letter but believe you qualify, call the Warm Home Discount Scheme on 0345 603 9439.
Offer information and advice on energy efficiency, and provide a range of services:
- free home energy checks
- benefit and tax credit checks
- access to the lowest-cost energy rates from your energy supplier.
Call the Home Energy Scotland Helpline on 0808 808 2282 or check out our information guide on Help to Heat you Home information guide
If you receive certain benefits, then you may be eligible for the Cold Weather Payment. This is given when the temperature for your local area is recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of 0 degrees or lower for seven consecutive days. You’ll get a payment of £25 for each seven day period between 1st November and 31st March. If you want further information you can contact your local Jobcentre Plus or contact our helpline on 0300 323 9961.
If you were born before 5th of May 1953 then you may be eligible to receive support with your heating costs. Payments are normally automatic and you should get your money before Christmas. If you meet the eligibility criteria but you do not receive your payment, you will need to make a claim. For further information call the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 03459 15 15 15.
Priority Service Register (PSR) for older and disabled people
You can sign up for the PSR if you’re a pensioner, disabled or chronically sick, or have a hearing or visual impairment. To sign up to can contact your supplier.
Services that the PSR scheme can offer:
- free energy efficiency advice
- your meter moved free of charge if it’s hard for you to use
- your bills in an alternative format
- priority reconnection if your supply is cut off
- alternative facilities for cooking and heating if your supply is cut off
- extra help to use your meter or appliances
- annual gas safety checks
Top tips to help you prepare for winter
The team at Disability Information Scotland did some research on things to think about before the cold weather arrives.
- Check grips on any mobility aids are in good condition and if you use a wheelchair, check for accessories to keep you safe, warm and dry. Call our helpline if you need help searching.
- Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, particularly if bad weather is forecast and over the festive period.
- I can be ideal to keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping- remember your pets too.
- Have a torch with spare batteries in case of power cuts.
- If you drive, check out the AA’s Winter Motoring Checklist.
- Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers to keep by the phone.
- Close the curtain as dusk approaches and it starts to get dark to help keep your home warm.
- When going outdoors try to keep your feet, hands, face, and head warm. Also, it can be beneficial to ‘layer’ clothes, instead of wearing just one thick jumper.
- Keep active- fresh air can be really beneficial. It can be nice to get outside every day, even just for a short walk, so long as the pavements are not too icy.
- Try to keep an active social life during the winter. Even if you can’t get out every day, try to phone or skype family or friends. There are different telephone befriending services that offer weekly friendship calls.
These are just a few ideas to help you survive the winter months. For further information and advice check out the NHS Choices Winter Health.
We would also love to hear from you- share you top tips on getting ready for and surviving winter in the comments section below.
You can also check out our piece that is going to feature in able magazine this month.