One in ten Scots with jobs miss paying gas or electricity bills due to lack of money
Smart energy meter - Image credit: PA
One in ten Scots workers have had to miss paying gas or electricity bills at least once in the last year because they have run out of money, even though they have a job.
The figures, which are based on a survey carried out by YouGov for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), have been released ahead of a Scottish Parliament debate on stage three of the Fuel Poverty Bill on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a survey of housing associations by Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) found that increasing numbers of social housing tenants have been self-disconnecting their own power or heating due to fuel poverty.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents to the SFHA said they had noticed an increase in the number of tenants experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty, while 61 per cent of housing associations reported an increase in tenants self-disconnecting their power or heating due to poverty.
Housing associations also reported an increase in the number of tenants in fuel debt.
Wider poverty issues, rising energy prices and increased fuel debt were also given as reasons for increasing fuel poverty, while welfare reform was also given as the main reason for self-disconnection.
Fuel poverty is defined as a household spending over 10 per cent of its net income on fuel costs after housing, care and childcare costs and unable to maintain an acceptable standard of living, while extreme fuel poverty is defined as spending over 20 per cent of net income on fuel.
The latest estimates of fuel poverty published in May, calculated according to new definitions, found that 23.7 per cent of Scottish households live in fuel poverty, while 11.9 per cent are in extreme fuel poverty.
Citizens Advice Scotland energy spokesperson Jamie Stewart said: “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.
“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.
He added: “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.”
Sally Thomas, SFHA chief executive, said: “It is shocking how many people are struggling to afford to heat their homes.
“The UK Government must take urgent action to raise social security in line with inflation to ensure no-one has to choose between heating or eating.
“Social landlords are working hard to make homes more energy efficient and reduce the cost of heating them for their tenants.
“However, in order to end fuel poverty, it is vital social landlords are eligible for grant assistance from the Scottish Government.”