A NEW national fuel poverty scheme has come a step closer with the announcement of a £224 million contract to deliver the programme over seven years.

The contract awarded to Warmworks Scotland by the Scottish Government will begin in September, and as many as 28,000 fuel poor and vulnerable households could make their homes easier and cheaper to heat.

The scheme will install insulation, heating and low carbon or renewable measures in the homes of households who are identified as living in fuel poverty, with a wider range of options for people living off the main gas grid including solar thermal and biomass systems.

People living in more remote parts of the country will get the same level of service, as the agent will be able to vary the delivery costs between six regions.

The new scheme encompasses all the measures that were available under the previous Energy Assistance Scheme, which closed in March, with the addition of new measures like flat or pitched roof insulation, glazing and hybrid wall insulation.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “This new scheme will give vulnerable households living in fuel poverty access to even more measures to make their homes energy efficient. These will be tailored to meet their needs to stop them from paying unnecessarily high fuel bills.

“By making sure people in the islands and in more rural parts of the country, have the same chances to make their homes, warmer, cheaper and easier to heat, we are tackling the inequalities that exist in our country.

“It will provide vulnerable people or those on low incomes, with heating or insulation measures, and will help thousands of Scots across the country have homes that are easier and cheaper to heat. The wider community will also benefit from the Warmworks Scotland contract as it will offer vocational training and employment opportunities.

“Since 2009 we have allocated over half a billion pounds to make Scotland’s homes more energy efficient with over 700,000 households benefitting from measures like new boilers or insulation, and this new scheme – alongside our other Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland – will build on this over the next seven years.”

Warmworks Scotland is comprised of the social enterprise Energy Saving Trust, Changeworks charity and Scottish SME Everwarm.

Mike Thornton, Energy Saving Trust director of government services, said: “This will give people living in fuel poverty really practical support. We’ve combined the expertise in working with householders of two leading social enterprises and the delivery skills of the private sector to create a high quality public service to tackle fuel poverty.

“The scheme will provide a more integrated step-by-step service to customers, from the initial referral through to the installation and beyond.

“Each customer will receive their own personal adviser and be supported through any complex issue or challenge they may face. This scheme will continue to help improve the lives of people in Scotland by making their homes warmer and more comfortable.”

More details of the scheme will be announced in due course.