Two-thirds of Bute Advice Centre clients ‘struggle to pay fuel bills’

Sixty-five per cent of those who responded to a Bute Advice Centre survey say they are struggling to pay their fuel bills. (Pic - John Devlin)
Sixty-five per cent of those who responded to a Bute Advice Centre survey say they are struggling to pay their fuel bills. (Pic - John Devlin)

A survey of Bute Advice Centre’s clients has revealed that almost two-thirds of them are struggling to pay their fuel bills.

The survey, the results of which are contained in centre manager Julie Semple’s annual report, found that 65 per cent of those who took part are finding it difficult to meet the costs of heating their homes.

A total of 96 BAC clients across the Bute and Cowal area responded to the survey, which also found that almost half are “very worried” about their ability to manage the new Universal Credit benefit, which replaced six separate benefits at Rothesay’s JobCentre Plus this week

The survey’s findings were as follows:

- 17 per cent of respondents find basic reading, writing and calculating figures very difficult and require support

- 34 per cent do not have access to the internet, with a further 30 per cent having only limited internet access

- 30 per cent have no online skills, and a further 40 per cent have only limited online skills

- 48 per cent say they are “very worried” about their ability to manage the impact of Universal Credit

- 42 per cent say they are worried they will find it difficult to budget for a whole month under Universal Credit (which is paid on a monthly, not weekly, basis), and will need budgeting support to prepare

- 36 per cent are concerned that welfare reform could lead to an increase in rent arrears

- 10 per cent only have access to a Post Office accound and do not have access to a bank account.

Mrs Semple said in her report: “It is my firm belief that Bute Advice Centre forms an integral part of the community of Bute and makes an extremely important contribution to the wellbeing of its people.”