Fuel poverty cases increase 130 per cent in four years
The number of fuel poverty cases recorded by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has increased by 130 per cent since 2011, according to new figures.
Two reports published by the charity show not just the sharp increase in case numbers but also the reasons behind this – which include austerity policies, low pay and changes to the social security system.
In 2013/14, the total number of energy issues dealt with by the Scottish CAB service increased by 49 per cent from the previous year (from 14,131 to 21,101).
In 2014/15 the total number increased again by a further 33 per cent (from 21,101 to 28,000).
These reports are published to coincide with Big Energy Savings Week, a UK-wide campaign in which government, charities and private companies work together to help people cut their energy costs and access the various schemes that are available to help you do so.
CAS consumer spokeswoman Sarah Beattie-Smith said: “These reports show the clear growth in the numbers of Scots who are struggling to pay their energy bills. They also show the impact this has had on our workload as an advice service, and how we have met this increase.
“Our case evidence highlights the key issues that have affected peoples’ ability to heat their homes over this period. These include; low pay, under-employment, increased living costs and rising debt, in addition to the impact of austerity policies such as below-inflation benefit payments, the bedroom tax, benefit sanctions and long waits for benefit assessments. The changes made to some billing systems have also been a key problem, and Scottish Power in particular has created a number of problems for consumers.
“The levels of fuel poverty in Scotland are higher than ever, and all over the country there are families who yet again this winter will face the devastating choice of whether to heat their home or put food on the table. As these reports show, Scottish CAB advisers deal with cases like this every week. We will continue to offer that expert advice and support to anyone who needs it. You can visit your local CAB or call our consumer helpline 03454 040506.
“The CAB service will also be taking part once again in this year’s Big Energy Savings Week, which starts tomorrow. CABs all over Scotland will be working in their communities to give out the message that help is available for anyone who wants to cut their fuel bills and use less energy. We urge everyone to look out for the information that we and the other partners in the campaign will be putting out.”