One in six adults in the UK are too ashamed or shy to ask for advice on how to lower their energy bills according to research released by the Home Heat Helpline for its winter campaign launch.
The phone line gives advice on a range of support schemes such as the Warm Home Discount and ECO, as well as general tips on how to keep bills in check.
The research also found nearly 60% of adults will at times avoid seeking help with their heating, even when they need it.
Angela Knight, Chief Executive of Energy UK – which runs the Home Heat Helpline – said: “It can sometimes be difficult to admit that you need help, whether that is when paying your bills, heating your home or in other aspects of your life. Having a stiff upper lip is part of the British persona.”
More than 42,000 made a call to the helpline last year but it said that represents just 1% of the people eligible for support. The organisation is hoping more people will get in contact this year to get advice on how claim the more than £300 million available for ‘vulnerable’ people to help them keep warm.
The Home Heat Helpline has expanded its work online and in social media to try and reach more people and launched a web chat service in April this year.
Neil Stoker, Advisor for Home Heat Helpline said this had been very effective in reaching younger Brits but less so with the elderly.
Asked how the older generation could be reached Mrs Knight said: “The younger people do pick up the phone. It’s what you do about grandma and that’s a broad social question.”
She said she didn’t know how everyone could be reached but added that more people needed to seek advice on behalf of others who were unable to do it themselves.
Mr Stoker said: “We’ve noticed a difference in the last three months. We get a lot more calls now from people calling on other peoples’ behalf.” He added: “The more that do that and get the word out the better.”
Mrs Knight said Home Heat Helpline was also looking into how it could join up its services with other advice lines to make the process more coherent, telling reporters to “watch this space”.