2.2.3 Elizabeth Belk
Elizabeth Belk was living in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. Unlike Florence Foster and Thomas Marnie, she owned her home, but it was in very poor condition, and difficult and expensive to heat. She had taken part in a trial scheme run by Scottish Power plc, in partnership with EAGA Ltd (the former Energy Action Grants Agency). This scheme was aimed at people on low incomes and offered benefit counselling, manageable fuel payment arrangements and a package of grant aid to improve homes, for example, through loft insulation, draught-proofing and cavity wall insulation. As she points out, people with low incomes are most likely to be paying for gas and electricity through pre-payment meters, the most expensive way of paying for fuel. They are also likely to be living in accommodation that proved inefficient to heat. At the time the trial started, Scottish Power had the highest proportion of customers on pre-payment metres in the UK (Utility Week, 13 November 1998). EAGA was looking to extend its activities to water saving, another utility cost that poor people found it difficult to afford.