THE team at East Ayrshire Citizens Advice are fighting for victims of a rogue company.

Many households in Cumnock and Doon Valley are trying to cope with debts of thousands of pounds after signing up to a government-backed energy scheme only to be scammed.

East Ayrshire Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has published a report, Deal Or No Deal, which reveals details of customers who are in debts of up to £21,000.

The Green Deal was a UK Government scheme to help consumers pay for energy efficiency measures in their homes, like solar panels.

HELMS (Home Energy Lifestyle Management Systems), one of the companies contracted to provide the service, often told customers the scheme was ‘free’ when it was in fact a loan.

In East Ayrshire, 78 per cent of people who got solar panels were told by HELMS that they could get free electricity all day, every day, but this has not been the case with many of them now having higher energy bills than before.

CAB's legal team have found that HELMS repeatedly breached the regulations meant to protect consumers.

These breaches included use of pressurised sales techniques, misleading information, and installation problems. Many customers also reported that they were made to sign over their feed-in tariffs – a solar subsidy – to a company related to HELMS.

Deal Or No Deal reveals that most consumers said they would never have signed up if they had known what they were actually getting into.

Linda Corbett, energy advice and project worker at East Ayrshire CAB, said: “HELMS customers were told that they could have solar panels and other measures for free as part of a government scheme, however some of them now have debts of up to £21,000.

“The Green Deal scheme helped some families to have warmer homes with energy efficiency measures that brought their energy bills down, but rogue trading like this undermines customer trust.

“HELMS customers told us that having a mis-sold Green Deal plan caused them stress, anxiety and sleepless nights with almost two thirds saying they’ve suffered from depression.

“We would encourage Cumnock and Doon Valley residents who feel they may have been mis-sold their Green Deal to visit us."

As well as the main office in Townhead Street, there are CAB outreach centres in Dalmellington, Drongan, Muirkirk, New Cumnock and Patna.#

Visit for more information.

MP Alan Brown added: "“I welcome the report from East Ayrshire CAB. They highlight the shocking issues of the HELMS mis-selling and the need for the UK Government to take action to protect those who have been ripped off.

"I have put down an Early Day Motion in Parliament commending the reports and calling for the UK Government to act on the various recommendations.

"I will continue to work with the CAB, my affected constituents to try and get suitable redress from the UK Government. I have also arranged a meeting with the chief executive of the Green Deal Finance Company and I will also raise my concerns with him.”