Scottish Gas – energy help for households

I met with Scottish Gas and parent-company Centrica to discuss the help and support available to households. The supplier, which stepped in to take on more than 700,000 customers from firms that have gone out of business, has pledged to donate 10 percent of all British Gas Energy profits for the duration of the energy crisis to the British Gas Energy Support Fund which provides grants of up to £1,500 to thousands of its customers with debt. In November it also announced an additional £25m of help, taking the amount it has invested in voluntary customer support this year to £50m.

In addition, the British Gas Energy Trust delivers advice and support services for customers, and has £6m in grants, energy efficiency measures, fuel vouchers and advice to all energy consumers. You don’t need to be a British Gas customer to seek support from the British Gas Energy Trust.

  1. Bleed your radiators: Air can enter the system and form bubbles at the top of your radiators, which stops them from working efficiently. If you notice cold spots at the top of your radiators, switch them off and after they cool, turn a radiator key in the valve at the top to let the air out. 
  2. Shut out the cold: You wouldn’t leave the back door open when the heating’s on, but warm air could still be escaping without you realising – and cold air could be sneaking in. Draught excluders are available from most DIY stores, and they’re an easy and affordable way to draught-proof your home. As well as sealing the joins around your doors and windows, don’t overlook extra measures like letterbox brushes, chimney balloons and even keyhole coverings.
  3. Turn off radiators in rooms not in use: It’s important not to spend money heating spare rooms or other rooms not in use during the winter, so if you know a room isn’t going to be used, make sure you turn the radiator off and close the door to stop cold air circulating through the rest of the house. When you do need to use the room, just turn it back on ahead of time to heat it up.
  4. Furnish for warmth: Think about where your heat sources are, and make sure your radiators can do their job properly. Putting your sofa in front of a radiator will absorb heat that could be warming the rest of the room.  Curtains and rugs have an important part to play as well, because thick material prevents heat from being lost through windows and doors – just don’t forget to open your curtains during the day so that the sun can do some of the work.
  5. Wrap your pipes up warm: We often come across frozen condensate pipes – which can burst or crack when the water inside turns to ice. The best solution is to stop the water inside your pipes from freezing in the first place. Insulating materials are an easy, cost-effective solution, available from most DIY stores – ensuring the pipes don’t lose heat can save an average of £15 on your bills, and prevent any costly repairs.
  6. Heat your home, not your walls: Cover a thin sheet of card with tinfoil and place it behind your radiators (if you’re feeling particularly crafty you can make it T-shaped so it sits on your radiator brackets). It’ll reflect the heat back into your rooms, meaning they warm up faster and retain more heat. If DIY isn’t your thing, you can also buy ready-made foil insulation. Households can save around £25 a year doing this depending on the insulation in their home.
  7. Check your thermostat settings: It’s easy to turn the thermostat all the way up when it’s freezing cold but what temperature should your house be? Aim to set your main room thermostat somewhere between 18°C and 21°C and you can save around 10 percent on your heating bills – an average of £115 a year – by turning it down by 1 degree. It’s also a good idea to set your thermostat to one temperature and then use a timer to turn it on and off when you need the heating most. That way you won’t waste excess energy from leaving the heating on too high, for too long.
  8. Be energy smart: Making the most of tech like smart thermostats means you can control your heating on the go and avoid wasting money on energy you’re not using. For example, if you’re stuck at work or delayed on the way home, you can use your smartphone to stop the heating from coming on too early and warming up an empty house. Our Hive Active Heating customers save around £311 on average per year.
  9. Get the help you’re entitled to: It’s always worth finding out if you’re eligible for extra assistance with your energy bills, especially before the cold weather sets in. Face-to-face advice, financial support and grants up to £1,500 are available from the British Gas Energy Trust (even if you’re not a British Gas customer). Most suppliers also offer assistance funds to provide grants towards energy costs.”

Westminster diary wb 21st November


I bobbed during questions to the department responsible for Levelling Up funding. It never does any harm to keep mentioning Inverclyde. I pressed for a date and also chanced my arm by pulling up the Secretary of State, Michael Gove for making nonsensical critical remark about Ferguson Marine. I won’t stand idly by and hear the workforce criticised when they are doing an outstanding job. They are turning the yard around under the new management and we should recognise and defend that. They will be in a good place to bid for appropriate work, be those ferries or freighters. The main business in the Chamber was the Autumn Statement and as that carried over on to the next day there were no votes at the end and therefore I left the estate early at 9pm. It rarely happens but after a 6am start it’s always welcome.


My select committee took evidence from both the Welsh and Scottish Governments. We were interested in their involvement in trade deals and international treaties. Unfortunately, we heard the same old story of a lack of respect and engagement from Westminster. There is a defined three tier system that should be utilised but isn’t. We have created all the tools then put them in a box in a locked cupboard and thrown away the key. Meaningful engagement relies on respect and trust being shown by the U.K. gov to the devolved powers and that is lacking.

The APPG on Choice at the End of Life is always a hard listen but it was good to hear evidence from those involved in shaping legislation in the Isle of Man, Jersey, France, the USA and in Scotland. There is much we can learn from others.


I was at the Supreme Court for announcement that Scotland can’t have a referendum. No surprise, it was the expected legal outcome that served to highlight that the matter as to how Scotland or any constituent part of the U.K. can hold a referendum is a political one not a legal one. Parliament legislates, if it changes the law then the Supreme Court would rule differently.  PMQs was heavily weighted toward the SNP as we had eight questions. Not surprisingly we pushed the Prime Minister to see what the democratic route for a referendum was in a voluntary union. He couldn’t answer. There was an Urgent Question on this subject and one of the most interesting contributions came from Colum Eastwood SDLP when he said,

“A former Member of Parliament for Cork City once said: ‘No man has the right to fix a boundary to the march of a nation. No man has the right to say to his country, ‘Thus far shalt thou go and no further’.  Of course, this Parliament no longer has a Member for Cork City, because Charles Stewart Parnell was right. This United Kingdom is clearly not a partnership of equals—that has been made absolutely clear today—so when will the Government publish clear criteria for how the people of the north of Ireland can leave it.”

It’s not for me to tell the people of Ireland what to do but it is interesting that the Supreme Court ruling effects the constitution of the entire U.K., including Northern Ireland and Wales. A democratic deficit that must be addressed. I was on a delegated legislation committee on telecommunications. It was not controversial, but I took the opportunity to go on the record and raise my concern around dark money from outside the U.K. lobbying for change to U.K. law. As has happened in this case. I voted at the close of the day caught the 20:30 flight and was home by 22:30


I have an early start as I am speaking at a gambling education event in Edinburgh. Therefore, I caught the 6:28 from Gourock and got to Edinburgh at 8:30. The conference was interesting and a great opportunity to network. I hope to bring a short documentary on gambling addictions made my Martin Paterson to Inverclyde for public viewing.


I held surgeries in Port Glasgow library and the Branchton community centre in the morning and had a meeting with Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of Caledonian MacBrayne in the afternoon.