Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Fuel poverty hits residents hard
More than one in five Lanarkshire residents are living in fuel poverty, according to new figures from campaigners Energy Action Scotland.
Research by the organisation shows 22 per cent of households in South Lanarkshire are having to spend more than 10 per cent of their net income on energy costs, while the figure in neighbouring North Lanarkshire is 20 per cent.
The charity is warning that thousands more families are set to struggle with their bills ahead of another expected price hike for gas and electricity in the coming months, and is calling for government action.
Energy Action Scotland chief executive Frazer Scott told the Advertiser: “This problem is only likely to get worse – we estimate that as prices
rocket, over 100,000 more households will seriously struggle to heat their homes.
“We urgently need more government action to help improve the energy efficiency of homes all across the country, particularly targeted at households that suffer the greatest rates of fuel poverty.
“Over 2000 more people die in winter when cold damp homes reduce health and wellbeing than they do in summer. Continued inaction will cost lives.”
Householders saw electricity and gas bills increase just four months ago following a rise in the energy price cap – and are being warned to expect prices to soar again in April when it moves up again.
Energy Action Scotland officials are highlighting industry expert analysis, saying: “Continued volatility in wholesale energy markets could push average energy bills up by more than
£700 to £2000 a year.” The organisation wants to see reforms including cutting VAT on energy bills and additional assistance for those households on the lowest incomes; and is even running an online crowdfunder to help those struggling to heat their homes this winter.
Both of the Lanarkshire figures for households in fuel poverty are just below the Scotland-wide average of 24 per cent.
The Scottish Government defines it as any household requiring to spend more than a tenth of its income on energy after housing costs have been deducted; with “extreme fuel poverty” being those where energy costs account for more than 20 per cent of net income.
It has published a strategy to eradicate fuel poverty over two decades, with an initial goal of reducing the number of affected households to no more than 15 per cent by 2030.