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Dundee Energy Company in drive to cut household bills
As we pay more for our energy than ever before, a Dundee sustainable energy company is on a mission to slash home energy bills throughout the city, by offering free insulation to householders, which could save them up to £500 per year.
Sustainable Energy Scotland has appointed a team of staff in a range of roles and is recruiting more to prepare for demand as locals start to switch their heating on for Autumn and Winter.
The company, which is a member of the Dundee Trusted Trader scheme, is also working with communities throughout Perthshire, Angus, Fife and Aberdeen, protecting them from additional gas and electricity price hikes and improving home energy ratings, crucial when it comes to sale or rent.
The company’s offering, which is subject to a free survey, has been made possible by Government-driven energy efficiency grants under ‘Energy Companies Obligation (ECO)’,which are available to everyone on a ‘first come first served’ basis.
Callum Milne, Managing Director, Sustainable Energy Scotland said, “Our ethos has always been underpinned by a passion for improving people’s comfort, health and wellbeing but unfortunately many families in Dundee are continuing to live in fuel poverty. When installing cavity wall and loft insulation, the results are immediate. Householders won’t need to run their heating as often and their home will retain heat for longer, leaving them with a warmer home and more money in their pocket – crucial at a time when the UK’s energy prices continue to rise year-on-year. It’s also a straightforward process and takes just a few hours to install.”
In 2012, the big six energy suppliers increased their prices by up to 11%. In 2013, four of the big six made additional increases of over 11% and, from 2011 to 2013, domestic fuel bills rose by £170.
For more information or to arrange a free advice appointment, telephone (01382) 621681 or register online at www.sescotland.co.uk/FREE3.
Dundee City Council Dundee Homefinder Service
A VITAL service which helps match people who need a home with landlords across the city has been transferred to Dundee City Council.
The Homefinder Service, previously run by Transform, was taken under the council’s wing as part of the budget savings agreed earlier this year.
John Alexander convener of Dundee City Council’s housing committee said: “I am extremely pleased that the Homefinder service will now be provided by the council.
“The move allows this worthwhile initiative to continue and to be delivered in the most economic way for the people who use it.
“In the past year Homefinder has helped to rehouse around 250 people into private accommodation across the city and its continued presence ensures that housing options are maximised for people most in need.”
Homefinder helps people to get access to private sector housing in Dundee by matching their housing needs with high quality accommodation in a number of areas.
Potential tenants who use Homefinder know that landlords and their properties have been through a careful assessment to ensure they meet appropriate service levels, including charging affordable rents.
Staff can also advise with practical issues to help people move in to their new home.
Now delivered from Dundee House, Homefinder can be contacted on 01382 433003.
You can find out more about the service on line here http://www.dundeehomefinder.org/
Appeal to residents after Blairgowrie fire
A recent fire in a block of flats in Blairgowrie has highlighted the danger of residents using their common closes as a storage area for large household items.
Seven people had to be rescued after the blaze broke out in the close at the block in Coralbank Crescent earlier this month.
Firefighters from Blairgowrie and Alyth spent more than an hour tackling the flames. Their efforts to evacuate residents were hampered by items being stored in the communal area of the block, including a washing machine, rubbish bags and several bikes. The Fire and Rescue Service has blamed a discarded cigarette for starting the fire in the rubbish bags.
Following the fire Perth & Kinross Council is appealing to all Council tenants and private residents of blocks of flats to ensure that communal areas are kept clear. This is to ensure that residents of blocks can be easily evacuated in the event of a fire or emergency.
The Council’s Area Housing Teams and Safer Communities Wardens have been issued with the special ‘fire hazard tape’ which they use to mark any items that pose a fire risk by blocking an escape route from a block of flats, or items that would make access difficult for the emergency services. The brightly-coloured tape is intended to highlight these dangers to people, and the initiative has already seen some success.
The Council’s Housing and Health Convener, Councillor Dave Doogan, said: “The tape is designed to fit around items left in closes and advises the residents who abandoned them to dispose of them properly. Importantly the tape also reminds people of the very real fire dangers caused by these items.
“Our Safer Communities Wardens have already found that by simply alerting residents to the fire risks of these obstructions this prompts the removal of the offending items. When Council tenants fail to remove items that have been identified as a fire risk, further action will be taken consistent with the seriousness of this issue.
“The overall message to all residents is do not leave household items in communal blocks or residential areas. If you have an unwanted sofa or washing machine you can arrange special uplifts for bulky items by calling the Council on 01738 476476. Alternatively, you can dispose of them at your local recycling centre.”
Homeless Not Hopeless
Knowing that life on the streets can be tough, Kimberley Duncan wants homeless young people to be treated as individuals and not seen as another statistic.
The 18-year-old from Forfar, Scotland is concerned that some services aren’t doing enough to help vulnerable people. While living on the streets, Kimberley says she struggled to find the right support. Her aim is to show how sometimes even a friendly conversation can go a long way to give someone the confidence they need to turn their life around.
‘When I was homeless, I had the usual feelings of hating the world, but after a while I just learnt to cope with it,’ explains Kimberley, who now lives in a flat. ‘Living on the streets was terrifying though. It was cold, damp and I couldn’t see a way out. ‘But everything changed for me recently when I went to a homeless shelter. ‘The staff actually spoke to me like I meant something.
‘My campaign is showing how even the smallest things can matter and just listening to others like me makes a huge difference.’
With Fixers, Kimberley and her team have created a short film loosely based on her own experiences of being homeless. It follows the story of a young person living on the streets and shows how talking to someone who understands your situation can help a great deal.
‘The film is fantastic,’ Kimberley says.
‘It can often be hard for vulnerable young people to reach out for help. ‘But one thing that helps is talking to someone who is actually listening to you instead of looking at their watch, which is what the film is about.’
She plans to use the short piece as an educational resource for local councils and support services.
‘This is not about pointing fingers. It’s about working together,’ she explains. ‘I’ve been there and know what it’s like to have nothing. But it’s time to show that being homeless doesn’t make you hopeless.’
If you’re homeless or having housing problems, visit the Get Connected website for more information on where to get help.
Click the photo below to play the video
Perth Drop-in events for tenants
A series of drop-in events are to be held for Perth & Kinross Council tenants to identify their priorities for Council spending.
The drop-in events are part of a new approach that aims to involve tenants as much as possible in the rent-setting process and talk to them about how rent revenue is used in their local communities.
The sessions follow the Tenants’ Conference held in June, where tenants were given feedback on the tenant rent survey and then took part in an electronic questionnaire to find out about their spending priorities.
Housing and Health Convener, Councillor Dave Doogan, said: “We want as many tenants as possible to have a say on our rent-setting process and how the rent money we collect from them is spent. The drop-in sessions are a great opportunity for tenants around Perth and Kinross to have their voices heard. I would encourage tenants to come along. It’s important to us that their opinions help shape how we run services for them.”
All tenants are welcome to attend the events, which will be held at:
• Pullar House reception, Perth, Monday 4th August, 2pm-5pm.
• Crieff Area Housing Office, Wednesday 6th August, 4.30pm-6.30pm.
• Pitlochry Area Housing Office, Thursday 7th August, 2pm-5pm.
• Invergowrie Sheltered Housing Complex , Friday 8th August, 10am-12pm.
• Loch Leven Community Campus, Monday 11th August, 2pm-5pm.
• Letham Area Housing Office, Tuesday 12th August, 4.30pm-6.30pm.
• Blairgowrie Area Housing Office, Thursday 14th August, 2pm-5pm.
If you can’t make it along to one of the sessions, the questionnaire is also available to complete online at http://www.surveygizmo.com/
Scottish property market shows consolidated growth
The Scottish property market is showing signs of consolidated growth, according to official statistics published by Registers of Scotland..
The number of residential properties sold in Scotland in the fourth quarter was up 22.9 per cent on the same period in 2013. From January to March this year, 17,828 properties changed hands – the highest recorded for this quarter since 2007/08 – while the average price of property was £153,352. These statistics cover all residential sales, including those that did not involve a mortgage.
Registers of Scotland’s Director of Commercial Services, Kenny Crawford, commented:
“This is the third successive quarter that volumes have been up over 22 per cent on the previous year, illustrating consolidated growth in the Scottish property market. This is a picture that we’re seeing across Scotland, with all local authorities showing an increase in the volume of sales for this quarter compared to the previous year.
“Prices are also up by an average of 3.5 per cent, although this is more of a mixed picture across the country, with an increase of 24.9 per cent in Inverclyde and a fall of 14.3 per cent in Midlothian.”
The total value of sales across Scotland registered in the quarter increased by 27.2 per cent compared to the previous year to over £2.73 billion. The City of Edinburgh remains the highest value market with total sales of just under £430 million for the quarter, an increase of 28.4 per cent compared with the same quarter last year. Angus showed the highest percentage rise with the total value of sales increasing by 59.2 per cent, while East Dunbartonshire recorded the highest average property price at £219,731, a rise of 4.6 per cent.
All property types showed an increase in average house price in this quarter, the biggest increase being in terraced properties at 2.6 per cent. The largest sales volumes came from semi-detached properties, which increased by 29.5 per cent.
Anne Begg, PSPC Manager said, “We are delighted to hear that what we are experiencing within PSPCC tallies with the national picture. Sales have been particularly impressive throughout the month of May, the best performing month of the year to date. Villas and flats are doing especially well – member firms have literally been ‘flat out’, selling more flats in May than any other month this year and shifting 112 homes in total, compared to 75 this time last year.
“Properties are continuing to achieve around their asking price, with the average property selling for just over £163,000. Talk of a housing ‘bubble’ down south does not apply in Scotland, but we are delighted with the consistency and stability of the market, which can only point to an improving picture as the year progresses.”
Sold Out! – Record-Breaking Sales Success for Perth Builders
The first batch of Perth-built houses within Scotland’s largest planned new town have been snapped up in 3 days.
Stephen house builders have taken reservations on all of their first 13 properties at Chapelton, five miles south of Aberdeen, following their public release for sale at the on-site sales centre at the weekend. Due to demand, the firm hopes to release further properties for sale in July, with hopes to commence construction later this month.
The first phase of the development will see 256 properties being built, 82 of which will be built by Stephen. The 13 Stephen properties which have now been reserved are a variety of three, four and five bedroom homes in semi, detached and terraced forms. Eventually, the new town will provide 8,000 homes.
Tom Buchanan, Sales Manager said, “We are delighted with this early success and staggered by the demand and sense of anticipation which we saw at first-hand at the Chapelton event. Visitors were really excited about the vision for this new town and the range of quality properties on offer, and were particularly impressed with the obvious investment to the entrance and landscaping of the site, which looks superb.
“We very much look forward to seeing the development take shape, and being part of this thriving new sustainable community with its own busy high street, schools, healthcare facilities and lots of green space on 2,000 acres of farmland.”
To see how 2,000 acres of Aberdeenshire farmland will be transformed into Scotland’s largest new town you can watch this short film.
Click the photo below to watch the video
Claim government cashback to improve your home
Did you know you can claim up to £7,200 ?
A Tayside sustainable energy company is urging local communities to ‘act quickly’ and take advantage of a new Government scheme giving cashback in return for environmental improvements within the home.
Today (Monday 2 June 2014) sees the launch of the new phase of the £15M Green Homes Cashback Scheme, which is offering home owners, private sector landlords, tenants and social tenants up to £7,200 towards making their property more energy efficient.
Sustainable Energy Scotland (SES), based in Dundee’s Wester Gourdie Industrial Estate are authorised Green Deal assessors and installers, and can therefore not only conduct a ‘Green Deal Assessment’ on a property, but implement the measures recommended within the report.
Welcoming the scheme, Callum Milne, Managing Director, SES said, “Summer may officially have arrived but fuel poverty is, for many, a year-round problem. The best way for households to take control of their energy bills is to use less energy. Faulty boilers, draughty windows and insufficient insulation all cause properties to leak hundreds of pounds every year. By installing energy-saving improvements, families across the country can enjoy the benefits of warmer, more energy-efficient homes and lower bills.”
But Mr Milne also expressed a word of caution – “Despite our hopes that this funding is here to stay, anyone interested in applying for the Green Homes Cashback Scheme should act now and ensure that they don’t miss out, especially given the huge uptake of the previous, similar scheme. We’re urging local people to act quickly and grab a slice of the pie before the funds are swallowed up.”
The scheme is managed by the Energy Saving Trust and offers funding for up to £7,200 cashback per property for a wide variety of measures, such ashome insulation and boiler upgrades, on condition that they have been recommended within a Green Deal Assessment Report. Specifically, this new funding package can fund up to a maximum value of £6,000 towards the cost of solid wall insulation and up to £1,300 for a range of other recommended energy efficiency measures which fall within three categories:
- Condensing boilers – up to £500 (customers will not be able to claim for boilers and heating controls)
- Insulation – up to £400 (including loft insulation, but not including solid wall insulation)
- Other measures – up to £300 from a specified list, and
- Up to £100 towards the cost of the pre-install Green Deal Advice Report if at least one measure is installed.
Launched in 2012, SES was created to deliver energy efficiency to ordinary people and organisations, with a passion for ending fuel poverty and making Scotland a more energy efficient nation.
Anyone interested in arranging a Green Deal Assessment should contact SES – telephone (01382) 621681 or visit www.sescotland.co.uk.
Click the photo below to play the video
Buying a house with Help to Buy
A national scheme, which has thrown a financial lifeline to many house-hunters, is enjoying increased take-up in Perthshire.
Now, local housebuilding firm Stephen is calling for the Help to Buy (Scotland) initiative to be extended after the Chancellor announced that the English equivalent would run until the end of the decade, instead of 2016 as initially planned.
In his 2014 Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the first part of Help to Buy – the equity loan scheme – will be extended for an extra four years until March 2020 at a cost of £6bn to the Government. As a result, Homes for Scotland are pushing the Scottish Government to do the same, and for the Scottish version to also be extended.
The move has been backed by Stephen, where take-up of the interest-free loan has been significant.
Tom Buchanan, Marketing Manager said, “Most of our homes are eligible for the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme – namely, properties up to the cost of £400,000 and, after a slow start, we are now seeing a significant up-take of the initiative. We’re heartened that more people are in a position to buy homes than ever before, particularly those who were struggling to save for hefty deposit requirements. This is reflected in a strong take-up of the initiative across all of our developments, and from buyers in different circumstances, not just first-time buyers. With this much-needed injection to the Scottish property market, we would very much hope that the scheme will be extended in Scotland so that more people can get on the property ladder and fuel our economy further.”
Help to Buy (Scotland) is open to all home buyers, not just first time buyers, and provides help of up to 20% of the purchase price of a home. Buyers therefore pay for the majority share in the property – through a combination of mortgage and deposit. They require to provide a deposit (5%) to their lender and this amount, together with your mortgage, must cover a combined minimum of 80% of the total purchase price.
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