Fuel poverty ‘is only likely to get worse’
As industry and charities call for urgent action to support people with their energy bills this winter, the extent of Scotland’s fuel poverty problem has been geographically captured for the first time.
Figures mapped out by fuel poverty campaigner’s Energy Action Scotland show that 24 per cent of people living in Aberdeenshire live in fuel poverty compared to just 13 per cent in East Renfrewshire.
The Scottish average was 24 per cent of all households.
Fuel poverty is defined by the Scottish Government as any household spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy - after housing costs have been deducted.
Energy Action Scotland is urging the UK government to cut VAT on energy bills, redistribute the VAT windfall already received to help those with the lowest incomes and consider radical reforms to ensure that vulnerable fuel poor households are protected.
Energy Action Scotland’s, chief executive, Frazer Scott said: “This is not a problem that is going away; it is only likely to get worse.
"We estimate that as prices rocket over 100,000 more households will seriously struggle to heat their homes.
"We urgently need more government action to improve the energy efficiency of homes across the country but particularly targeted at households that suffer the greatest rates of fuel poverty.”
Industry analysts have warned that continued volatility in wholesale energy markets could push average household energy bills up by more than £700 to £2,000 a year from April.
Frazer added: “Continued inaction will cost lives.Over 2000 more people die in winter when cold damp homes reduces health and wellbeing more than they do in summer.”
The Scottish Government published its latest Fuel Poverty Strategy in December last year.
The Strategy lays out the government’s stretching targets within the Fuel Poverty Act with an overarching target that in the year 2040, as far as reasonably practicable, no household in Scotland is in fuel poverty and, in any event, no more than five per cent of households are fuel poor, no more than one per cent are in extreme fuel poverty and the fuel poverty gap is no more than £250 (in 2015 prices).