National chef Gary Maclean champions pressure cooker plan for low-income Dundee families

Posted: 19th March 2021

Low-income Dundee families are receiving pressure cookers to help them combat fuel poverty.

Charity Energy Action Scotland is working with Hillcrest Homes and Scotland’s national chef Gary Maclean on the scheme to help those struggling with their fuel bills.

Euan Hird of Hillcrest Energy Advice Team (HEAT), said they would shortly distribute around 15 cookers but could provide more if required. He said the devices could allow families to save up to 90% of the power they normally use for cooking.

He continued: “It’s a massive issue. Food banks have had people returning food because they didn’t have access to electricity or a device to cook a meal.”

Energy Action Scotland chief executive, Frazer Scott, called on other housing associations in Tayside to get involved in helping them distribute more cookers.

He said: “It is estimated that more than 25% of households in the country are living in fuel poverty. “To address this we need to be taking small steps as well as large ones.

“Getting families to think about how and what they cook is one way of making a positive contribution to keeping bills down, putting more money in people’s pockets and improving health.”

He added that any social housing provider in Tayside which thinks they have tenants who could benefit from a low energy pressure cooker should contact him.

Around 32% of Dundee households live in fuel poverty, according to the Scottish House Condition survey. The proportion has grown slightly after declining for a number of years previously. The Scottish average is between 24% to 29% of households, the EAS said.

Hillcrest Homes in the city is one of the first housing associations to receive the devices after a national fund raising drive generated £10,000.

Scotland’s national chef, Gary Maclean, is backing the campaign with online cooking classes and recipes. The Masterchef: The Professionals champion said: “I was shocked at the fuel poverty statistics, so was delighted to get involved with this campaign.

“It will not only help families reduce their bills, but also gives me a chance to encourage them to cook healthier meals as well.”

He has prepared lessons on preparing a chicken dinner and soup using the devices.

“I am a big fan of cooking with a pressure cooker. They are great for keeping in flavour and reducing cooking time.”

Fuel poverty is defined by the Scottish Government as any household spending more than 10% of their income on energy – after housing costs have been deducted.

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