Case Study October 2022

Voices: The Energy Advisory Service (TEAS)

In our Voices series, we share the stories and opinions from our funded organisations that are helping to find solutions to poverty and trauma in Scotland. The latest group is The Energy Advisory Service (TEAS), a Stornoway based charity supporting people living in fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty across the Western Isles.

What is your organisation working to achieve?

We support people to rent, buy and live in comfortable, affordable homes; promote healthy independent living and assist communities and business to be more sustainable. Our primary aim is to help householders who are in fuel poverty, which is a high concern where we are based in the Outer Hebrides. We do this by providing support and advice to householders in the Outer Hebrides to help them with energy use. We maintain strong partnerships with other support organisations so that we can provide holistic advice and support to as many householders as possible.

Where are you focusing your support right now?

We are focusing on helping the most vulnerable households access energy advice and support, enabling them to heat their homes adequately and efficiently. We aim to help reduce the number of homes, having to choose between heating or eating throughout the Outer Hebridean chain of islands. We are receiving a very high level of enquiries amidst the current energy/cost of living crisis. People are desperate and in need of assistance, we are focusing on helping them to alleviate energy debt, understand their energy bills, liaising with energy suppliers to negotiate payment plans and resolve issues, providing energy efficiency advice and providing access to financial benefit schemes such as energy vouchers, Warm Homes Scotland and the Home Heat Support Fund to name a few. We have worked to strengthen partnership relations with referral mechanisms and signposting making sure we deliver a holistic service to the householder.

How do poverty and trauma figure in your work?

Supporting householders in fuel poverty is central to our work, as well as those houses who are also close to falling into fuel poverty and are really struggling. The energy advice team work very closely with very vulnerable individuals and households often in poverty and fuel poor. The Outer Hebrides have always faced substantially higher than average fuel poverty figures and unfortunately fuel poverty figures have rocketed. In April 2022 Energy Action Scotland completed a mapping exercise showing the Western Isles to have the highest level of fuel poverty in Scotland at 57%. With the vast increase in energy costs and the high heating usage we face in the Outer Hebrides this means that households who were previously managing their energy bills are now finding it difficult, meaning our client base is growing daily.

"The Outer Hebrides have always faced substantially higher than average fuel poverty figures and unfortunately fuel poverty figures have rocketed. In April 2022 Energy Action Scotland completed a mapping exercise showing the Western Isles to have the highest level of fuel poverty in Scotland at 57%."

How can funders support your work?

Without funders, our crucial energy advice service, advisors, and our work would not be possible, as a charity and community benefit society we do not have resources to self-fund. Funders enable us to employ qualified and experienced energy advisors which is critical to our continuation. This enables us to reach all corners of our community, provide energy first aid to our clients and impart legacy benefits. Longer term, continuous grants, such as the Robertson Trust Grant, make such a difference to our work as we are able to fully concentrate on supporting householders rather than starting a project and by the time everything is in place, we are having to look for funding again and start a new project, thus taking up vital time that could be used to further support those homes in real need.

What changes would you like to see in your area of focus during the next five years?

We need to see more long-term government support for families and organisations such as ours to combat fuel poverty and the cost-of-living cost crisis. We would like to see long term funding options for energy advice, where we can concentrate our efforts fully on our communities without the distraction and disruption of looking for funding to support our work on an annual basis. We would also have more opportunity to make longer term changes to people’s lives further to the primary intervention.

Commitment to a long-term energy price cap needs to be in place with emphasis on a rural top up so areas such as the Outer Hebrides have access to affordable energy and are not paying a premium because of our rural location. The next five years need to concentrate in eliminating fuel poverty in Scotland and see all homes are bought up to a reasonable living standard, made as energy efficient as possible without putting the responsibility solely on the homeowner.

What long-term system changes would best address the issues?

Long-term funding for local trusted and community-based energy advice services, this would ensure that householders have access to tailored, vital, and valuable support they require easily, locally and in the comfort of their own home. We need further Government level intervention to guarantee fair and affordable energy for all. In addition to ensure that tailored support is provided to island/remote rural location for energy efficiency projects. We live in a unique part of the country which has a very different, valued, housing stock; therefore, this needs to be considered when developing projects and criteria on projects.


How The Energy Advisory Service (TEAS) work fits with our 2020-2030 strategy

Lorna Wallace, Funding Officer

With the cost of living crisis facing so many families this autumn and winter, and energy prices rising higher, we know that fuel poverty continues to affect many people across Scotland. The Western Isles in particular are disproportionately affected by fuel poverty, with 25% of people living in extreme poverty. 

Under our strategy, we are interested in supporting work that helps people who are struggling with day-to-day costs, including fuel poverty. The Energy Advisory Service (TEAS) supports people to understand measures that can be taken to reduce energy consumption and working with vulnerable households to provide information and support.

They do this by taking a community-led approach, with local people feeding into project developments and listening and responding to the needs of their community. It is for this reason that TEAS is strongly aligned with our strategy. 

Apply for Funding

Does your organisation or project support people and communities in Scotland with experience of poverty and trauma? If so, you might be eligible for funding from us.