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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 UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.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 44 January 2013

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What the new pensions reforms mean to you

‘This is, of course, one of the most important issues for pensioners, and both Age UK and Age Scotland have detailed information of how these new reforms might affect you on their websites.

As this data is too lengthy to put into the newsletter, or to attempt answer any questions that you might have, I’ve provided contact details for your use.  

To contact Age UK and/or Age Scotland by internet just ‘Google’ them from the home page on your computer.

For those of you who do not have a home computer available for use, can I remind you   that most local libraries/community centres have computer access.’           

I am aware that some of you do not have access; or do not wish to access; a computer for this information, therefore below are both helpline numbers where there will be assistance available.                                                                           
Age Scotland Helpline:    0845 125 9732
Age UK Helpline:           0800 169 6565
** If in doubt, then check it out! **

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Energy Efficient Products

Age Scotland is teaming up with the Office of Fair Trading with the launch of new guide advising consumers buying energy efficient products. With the renewable energy market expanding significantly, and the expectation that householders may be obliged to ensure their homes are as efficient as possible, the guide is intended to help consumers ensure they’re getting the best deals on the market.

With so many options available for householders when it comes to energy efficient measures such as boilers or solar panels, the partners believe that consumers must be confident that they are making the right decision for their property. Over the last couple of years, Age Scotland has heard of cases where individuals have experienced increased energy bills despite having these kinds of measures installed.

Greg McCracken, Age Scotland Policy Officer, said: “Maximising household energy efficiency can substantially reduce bills. The implications for consumers from not getting the right measures for their property can, however, be significant. Good guidance and advice will be key to ensuring that Scotland’s housing stock is fit for purpose.”

Nisha Arora, Director in the OFT's Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Group, said: “It is important that people can be confident the companies they deal with are complying with the law, and that they are able to make informed purchases, without pressure sales techniques. Many businesses in this sector comply with the law and engage in good business practices but we urge others to raise their standards. Businesses that fail to address the issues that we have identified risk enforcement action.”
The OFT has produced guidance for consumers buying energy efficiency products which includes the following recommendations:
Take your time in making a decision – don’t be tempted to sign up straightaway and    shop around to get the best good deal. Remember: you can ask a salesperson to leave your home at any time!  

Double check the facts – check the product is suitable for your home, what grants are available and any claims made about potential energy savings or benefits.

Know what you are signing – give yourself time to read the paperwork and check if you’re signing a contract or just agreeing to a survey or a quote.

Know your cancellation rights – on purchases exceeding £35, you usually have seven calendar days to change your mind and cancel, and can get back any money you have already paid, including a deposit.

Know your rights if things go wrong – ensure you know what you can do if things go wrong. Contact Citizens Advice for information and advice on your legal rights.

Members information is taken from AGE UK & AGE Scotland.
My apologies to both these parties for any mis-quotes.

Mae Stewart

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