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by Staff reporter
22 August 2022
Nicola Sturgeon calls for energy price cap rise axe as charity reveals 'frightening' cost-of-living demand

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon calls for energy price cap rise axe as charity reveals 'frightening' cost-of-living demand

"People are hanging on by their fingertips" and some face a choice between food or heating this winter, a Scottish charity says.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) says it is experiencing "frightening" demand for advice around food insecurity as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. It says the demand is fuelled by soaring energy costs and more than one in 10 people seeking help with utilities have required food bank referrals or other help with groceries.

The Scottish Government estimates that one third of homes will be in fuel poverty after the energy price cap rises in October, with their heating costs standing at more than 10 per cent of household income after tax and housing costs are deducted.

It is anticipated that regulator Ofgem will confirm an energy cap rise on Friday, taking average domestic bills to £2,800. 

On Sunday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the UK Government to cancel this and increase the financial support available to households. Appearing on The Sunday Show, she renationalising energy firms "should be on the table" over what she called a "looming disaster" for the public.

She said: "This further increase in people’s energy bills can’t be allowed to go ahead because it is making it impossible for people to provide the basics for themselves and their families."

Across Scotland's Citizens Advice Bureau network last year, 25 per cent of utilities advice cases related to income crisis measures or similar. In the first three months of this year, that rose to 35 per cent, while food bank referrals or shopping voucher cases grew to 45 per cent.

CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: "What we are seeing is frankly frightening. More than one in ten people seeking help with an energy issue also requires help with food insecurity. Let's be absolutely clear what that means – some people face the prospect of freezing or starving this winter.

"This crisis is affecting everyone, but some people are especially at risk – our data shows higher demand for advice from council tenants, those out of work and those unable to work. That to me suggests broad support alone will not be enough – there needs to be targeted help for the vulnerable.

"We are seeing these issues before a toxic cocktail this winter of soaring energy bills, growing inflation and higher interest rates. People are hanging on by their fingertips and it’s the summer – how are they expected to cope when the temperature drops and bills rise?"

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