12. Stigma associated with living in a cold home
There are three possible ways in which stigma might operate. Personal stigma is the person's own feelings that seeking assistance is shameful. Social stigma is the feeling that other people judge seeking assistance to be shameful and institutional stigma is that which arises from the process of accessing assistance.
Stigma can be used to exclude or marginalise people and the prejudice and fear caused by stigma may prevent people coming forward and seeking assistance they need and are entitled to. This can create a sense of social isolation and can impact on their health and well-being.
Individuals living in cold homes or who may be struggling to pay their energy bills may not necessarily identify with the term fuel poverty. They may struggle to pay their energy bills and heat their homes effectively but may not necessarily consider themselves in actual poverty. The actual term "fuel poverty" may create a stigma and sense of social isolation in individuals that was not there before.
In taking forward the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill and the draft fuel poverty strategy we will ensure that we do not create any form of stigma that will prevent those in need of help and support, from seeking or accepting this.
Our collaborate partnerships, in particular with those in the health and social care sector who have routine access to homes, will be critical in identifying and sensitively referring people who need help and support to the most appropriate organisation.. We will ensure that help and support is offered in an inclusive and sensitive manner respecting the dignity and rights of individuals in need of help and support.
However, most importantly, we will seek to reverse the stigma associated with accessing support and assistance and will support and encourage people living in cold homes to exercise their entitlement to live in a warm home that they can afford to heat wherever they live in Scotland.