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Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus.
Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.

Issue 22 October/November 2008

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Members Information

The information listed below was provided by Age Concern Scotland. It may be useful to keep this to hand for any help or assistance you may need in the future. My apologies to Age Concern for any misquote.

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Age Concern Advocacy 

Age Concern Scotland Advocacy represents older people and supports them in speaking up for themselves.  We work to ensure that older people's views are respected and considered in the decisions which affect their lives. Age Concern Scotland Advocacy offers one-to-one support to older people.  We take time to listen to the views and concerns of the older person and encourage them to speak up for themselves.  We support older people in meetings and assist them to share their views with staff, agencies and individuals.

Age Concern Scotland Advocacy works to:

  • enhance communication between the older person and the service provider
  • take time with the older person, giving them the opportunity to express and follow through their opinion
  • reduce the older person's anxiety throughout the decision-making process

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Home Safety in Winter

Smoke and Gas:

Buy a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide alarm. Neither of these are expensive and you may even get them free if you join your energy supplier's Priority Services Register. They are also included in the Scottish Government's Central Heating Programme.

If you are on your energy supplier's Priority Services Register, ask for a free gas safety check.

Cutting down on draughts is a good idea, but do not plug up air vents in a room. This might cause carbon monoxide to build up which is dangerous.

If you smell gas - phone National Grid on: 0800 111 999.

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Step One - Contacts

Call the Energy Efficiency Advice Centre - 0800 512 012

For the Scottish Government's Central Heating programme call - 0800 316 1653

and for the Warm Deal grant call - 0800 316 6009

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Phone your energy supplier and ask to be put on the PRIORITY SERVICES REGISTER. If you are dissatisfied with the response or would prefer independent advice - Call:

Energy watch - 0845 688 9594

typetalk - 18001 08459 060708

Your energy supplier is required to have a PRIORITY SERVICES REGISTER for older people - ask about free gas safety checks, cold alarms, a password protection scheme and more useful services. Your energy supplier may also have some type of ‘social tariff' offering discounted bills or discounted products such as energy efficient light bulbs or insulation packages.

You should also receive extra assistance in the event of a power cut.

If your bills are a problem, contact your energy supplier as soon as possible as a payment scheme can be arranged. Alternatively, phone the independent consumer body, Energy watch, for advice and assistance on how to deal with your energy bills.

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Call CITIZENS ADVICE DIRECT - 0844 848 9600 or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Every year many older people fail to claim their entitlements which could be worth several hundreds of pounds depending on individual circumstances. Check your eligibility for Pension Credit, Cold Weather Payments, Council Tax Benefits, for example, by calling your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.

Maximising your income can help towards your fuel costs in the winter months

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For free impartial advice and information from the independent energy consumer watchdog call Energywatch - 0845 688 9594

typetalk 18001 08459 060708

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Phone Healthy Eating Helpline- 0845 278 8878

Phone NHS Helpline - 0800 22 44 88

Phone your GP to book your flu jab

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What to Do in Severe Winter Weather

Cold weather warnings are issued when the average temperature in your area is recorded as 0 centigrade (freezing point) or below over seven consecutive days.

Severe weather conditions can lead to widespread disruption of communication and transport systems.


1. Keep tuned to your local radio or television station for updated weather forecasts.

2. Check your room temperature and maintain a warm heat.

3. If you take regular medication, have you checked that you have enough of any prescribed medication to last you through the cold spell?

Keep a note of your GP surgery number and the emergency call out number.

4. Make sure you have an emergency kit in case of power failure. This should include a torch and batteries, portable radio, emergency numbers and if you have a mobile phone keep it close to you.

5. Keep your store-cupboard well stocked with a supply of food and bottled water or canned drinks in case you are unable to go out or food supplies cannot be delivered to your home because of difficult road conditions.

6. In case of burst pipes, know where to find your stop valve which controls your water supply and make sure you know how to shut it off quickly in an emergency. If you are unable to do this yourself, ask your neighbour, family or friend to help.

7. Your local council will have a plan for helping older people in severe weather. If you require urgent assistance outwith normal office hours contact your local council - keep their number handy.

Power Cuts: If there is a power cut contact the relevant numbers below to ensure they know you have no power and that you are an older person.

Signing up for your supplier's Priority Services Register means you will get extra help in dealing with power cuts.

Electricity power cuts:

Central and Southern Scotland: Scottish Power - 0845 27 27 999

North of Scotland: Scottish Hydro Electric - 0800 300 999

Gas supply cut/any gas emergency: National Grid [formerly Transco] - 0800 111 999

In the event of water emergencies: Scottish Water - 0845 601 8855

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Are You Missing Out?

Switch Supplier - If you have not recently or never switched supplier, then you could be spending in the region of £150 per year more than you need to.

We can provide you with the cheapest deals based on your personal needs and make the switching process as easy as possible.

Free Services:

Every energy supplier is obliged to provide free services which includes a password Protection scheme, annual gas safety check, quarterly meter readings and more. You may be entitled to receive these free services if any of the following apply to you:

• Of pensionable age

• Have a disability

• Are hearing or visually impaired

• Chronically sick

Energy Grants:

For more information about the Scottish Government's Central Heating Programme and Warm Deal. Call your local council for information about energy grants.

Call now and speak to a member of our Priority Consumer Team on 0845 688 9594 to find out what you are missing out on. Or alternatively visit theirr website on


or email: priority.consumers@energywatch.org.uk

or write to, Freepost, RLYB HJHH THKS, energywatch, Percy House, Percy Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4PW.

Energywatch statement: "energywatch is the independent gas and electricity consumer watchdog. Our aim is to provide you with free and independent information that will help you to reduce your bills and keep warm and save energy. If you, a family member or friend, could benefit from finding out about energy grants, reducing energy bills and free services please contact us now".


Mae Stewart [Apologies to Age Concern for any misquote]