10% of Scots unable to pay fuel bill due to lack of cash

3 June 2019, 05:25

gas hob

One in 10 workers in Scotland was unable to pay a gas or electricity bill at least once last year due to a lack of money, a report found.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said 101 respondents from 1,009 people surveyed said they had run out of money before pay day in the last 12 months.

The poll, conducted for CAS by YouGov, found 7% of respondents had run out of money once or twice while 2% had done so "more than six times".

Renewed definitions of fuel poverty last month revealed 583,000 Scottish households are in fuel poverty while 293,000 are in "extreme" fuel poverty.

Jamie Stewart, CAS energy spokesman, said: "The Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps hundreds of thousands of people each year and for thousands of our clients, fuel poverty and soaring energy bills is a source of stress and anxiety.

"This data confirms what CAB advisers are seeing across the country. Far too many people who are in employment are not earning enough to enable them to pay to heat their homes.

"Fuel bills continue to squeeze household budgets, even for working people. The current energy market is not working for consumers, and both the Government and the energy companies need to focus their efforts on making sure that targeted help is available to those who need it.

"To counter fuel poverty and ever rising energy bills, we need a multi-faceted approach from policy makers, Government and industry."

Fuel poverty is defined as a household spending 10% of its net income on fuel costs after housing, care and childcare costs - while extreme fuel poverty is defined as 20% and over.

The Scottish Parliament will debate Stage 3 of the Fuel Poverty Bill later this week.

Mr Stewart added: "We hope the Fuel Poverty Bill, set to be passed this week, is another step towards fixing the problem as it commits the Scottish Government to binding targets.

"We would welcome amendments to the Bill which strengthen the levels of scrutiny and hold the Scottish Government to account.

"We know from our research that what the fuel poor really need is financial support to off-set fuel bills, as well as impartial advice and energy-efficient properties.

"The real test is whether the Fuel Poverty Strategy, which follows this Bill, can deliver this.

"People need to know if they need help with energy bills that their local Citizens Advice Bureau is there to help.

"We can offer advice to help lower energy bills, make homes more energy efficient and make people's money go further."