Grangemouth CAB boss warns of 'perfect storm' as families battle rising bills

The manager of Grangemouth Citizens Advice Bureau is bracing staff for a “perfect storm” which will sweep into the office in coming weeks as high heating prices hit home for residents.

By James Trimble
Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 12:32 pm

Bill Palombo, who is now based at the CAB office in York Arcade, Grangemouth, said: "At the moment we are not seeing an increase in the number of people contacting us, but we wouldn’t expect there to be a huge increase. It’s a strange time for debt – enquiries are down.

"But it’s coming – we have a perfect storm heading our way.

"You have the increase in inflation, Universal Credit being cut by £20 per week and furlough coming to an end.

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Winter is coming to residents of Falkirk and so are high energy costs

"A lot of people have been working at home, but now employers are asking them to come back into work which means more cost due to the travel involved.

“And now you have got heating costs going up, so it might not be this month or next month, but a perfect storm is coming. We are trying get ready for it as best we can. The biggest impact is going to be felt by those on the lowest incomes.

"It’s going to have a huge effect on them.”

Last week Falkirk’s Forgotten Villages – Ending Fuel Poverty group co-founder Claire Mackie also stated her concerns for the coming weeks, fearing the worst for residents this winter if something is not done to help them.

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She said: “The concern of someone dying due to the freezing properties or malnutrition is very real this year. We’ve had families having to share beds due to houses being freezing as they were not able to afford to put heating on last winter.

"There are others who have been forced to use food banks to eat and provide for their families.”

And there were some people in the Falkirk area who admitted high energy costs mean they only turn their heating on if their grandchildren come to visit, while others stated they had been forced to choose between heating and eating in the past and were scared they would be faced with that stark choice again this winter.

According to Scottish Green Party MSP Gilliam Mackay, figures show a quarter of households in Scotland are already considered to be living in fuel poverty.

She added: “The surge in gas prices is a real concern to so many people who rely on fossil fuels to heat their homes, and yet again demonstrates why we must end our dependency on volatile, unreliable and climate-destroying fossil fuels.

“That’s why Scottish Greens in government are accelerating plans to make homes across Scotland more efficient and to switch from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives like heat pumps.

“It has been galling to see Boris Johnson preach climate responsibility on the world stage while at home his government is forcing families in Falkirk into poverty and doing nothing to decarbonise heating and transport.

“We don’t have time for this kind of reckless approach which is why, with Greens in government, Scotland will take a different path.”

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