70% of Scots worried about affording energy bills this year
More than two-thirds of Scots are worried about affording their energy bills this year and many already feel cold in their own homes because they are limiting usage, according to a new opinion poll.
The Survation poll for Advice Direct Scotland has exposed the scale of the cost-of-living crisis, with 70% either very worried or quite worried about being able to pay their bills.
Just under two-thirds (65%) of Scots said they have already limited their energy use in the past 12 months so they could afford to spend money on other goods or services, including food. And of those rationing their usage, 29% said they ‘often’ feel cold in their own home as a result and 57% ‘sometimes’ feel cold – a total of 86%.
The findings come after it was announced that April’s energy price cap rise is set to add £693 to average household costs, while inflation is also running high.
Concerns about affording bills this year are highest in the Highlands and Islands and central Scotland (both 77%), and highest among 35-to-44-year-olds (81%).
The poll involved 1,008 respondents aged 16+ in Scotland, with fieldwork conducted between January 26 and 28 - before the price cap hike was even announced.
Advice Direct Scotland runs the national service advice.scot, with advice available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance.
This includes the energyadvice.scot service which is available online and on freephone 0808 196 8660 for any consumer in Scotland, with free advice on billing, grants and assistance.
energyadvice.scot has received more than four times the anticipated level of enquiries since it opened in April last year.
Common concerns are big jumps in monthly Direct Debit payments, how these extra costs can be met, and worries about what happens when your supplier goes out of business.
Advice Direct Scotland also administers the Scottish Government’s £4 million Home Heating Support Fund for those rationing their energy use, which ‘referral partners’ such as housing associations, local authorities and charities can access on behalf of their clients.
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “This stark poll demonstrates the scale of the cost-of-living crisis in Scotland. Thousands of households are already rationing their energy use so that they can afford necessities such as food. And, as a result, many are cold in their own homes.
“The looming energy price hike is causing considerable anxiety, with 70% of Scots worried about affording their bills. Our advisers are working hard to provide free, practical advice to consumers across Scotland and in tandem with the Scottish Government we are helping to deliver a £4m support fund.
“Nobody has to suffer alone, and anyone concerned about their energy bills should get in touch with us for expert, practical advice.”