Stamp out the worry of oil bills

HELP is readily at hand for householders in the Ballymena and Antrim boroughs to budget their home heating bills more effectively via the oil stamp saving scheme.

Central heating oil is an expensive but necessary way for many people to warm up their homes and this scheme provides a simple but effective way of easing the pain of paying for oil on a regular basis.

Being spearheaded in many parts of the province by cross-community charity St Vincent de Paul (SVP), it aims to assist people avoid facing a huge bill by a simple method of budgeting and the local SVP shop ‘Vincent’s’ on Ballymena’s Cushendall Road is one place where oil stamps are on sale.

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Clare Barr, speaking for the Society of St Vincent de Paul who run the Oil Stamps Scheme in the Ballymena borough said it’s going well.

“We are very pleased with the uptake of the scheme which continues to grow,” she said.

“We now have nearly 30 places where stamps can be bought, and so far this year over £200,000 worth of stamps have been sold.

“That means that a large number of households are budgeting prudently for their heating needs and will not be hit with a big shock as winter comes in. We encourage everyone who can benefit from this scheme to do so.”

A spokesperson for Ballymena Borough Council which supports the scheme, said: “St Vincent de Paul’s oil stamp saving scheme allows you to spread the cost of your home heating oil bills by purchasing oil stamps from participating local retailers...ask for your free stamp card and start collecting. Order your fuel from one of the participating oil suppliers then use your card to pay/part pay the bill!

“Ballymena Borough Council are very pleased to support this scheme as it fits in very well with Council objectives. Inadequate heating is associated with poor health, especially for the elderly, and ways of helping people afford to heat their homes properly are important in these tough economic times,” the Council spokesperson added.

In neighbouring Antrim, the council there has been running its own oil stamps saving scheme for the past number of years with great success and the local authority would like to remind residents to keep saving.

Alison Briggs, Health and Well-being Manager says: “The Oil Stamp Saving Scheme was set up to give our residents a way of saving in advance for their home heating oil and therefore spreading the cost of their bills. The retailers are all local so it’s easy to buy the stamps when you’re shopping. Since the start of the scheme, nearly a quarter of a million pounds worth of oil stamps have been sold, benefiting more than 1,000 households. There’s also a wide variety of local oil suppliers taking part which means that you can choose a company to suit yourself.”

Alison added: “Simply pick up an oil stamps savings card at any of the participating retail outlets and purchase stamps with your weekly shopping, at a cost of £5 each. Stamps are placed on the savings card and then used as payment or part payment of a fill of oil from any of the participating oil companies. It couldn’t be easier.

“So please, think about saving for your oil now. It’s a very simple, yet effective scheme and I really would encourage everyone to use it.”

For a full list of participating retailers in Antrim, contact Sharon McCaig, Community Well-being officer T. 028 9446 3113 E. [email protected] E. [email protected] or visit www.antrim.gov.uk/oilstamps

For a list of participating retailers and oil suppliers in the Ballymena Borough contact Karen Evans, Energy Efficiency Adviser for Ballymena Council on 028 25660391, or St Vincent de Paul on 028 25644122.