One tenth of Scots who are in work have had to miss paying gas or electricity bills at least once in the last year because they have run out of money, according to new statistics calculated and published by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
The figures, based on a survey conducted for CAS by YouGov, are released as the Scottish Parliament prepares to debate Stage 3 of the Fuel Poverty Bill later this week.
Renewed definitions of fuel poverty published in May revealed that 583,000 Scottish households defined as being in fuel poverty and 293,000 defined as in ‘extreme’ fuel poverty.
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. Extreme fuel poverty, meanwhile, is defined as spending over 20 per cent.
Citizens Advice Scotland Energy Spokesperson Jamie Stewart said:
“The Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps hundreds of thousands of people each year, and for thousands of our clients fuel poverty and soaring energy bills is a source of stress and anxiety.
“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.
“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.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2078 adults, of which 983 were workers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th - 23rd March 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).
A question was asked to a weighted sub-sample of 1009 people in Scotland from a wider sample of 2078; How often have you missed a gas/electricity payment as a result of running out of money before payday?
Of the sample of 1009 people, 101 respondents in work said they had run out of money before payday in the last 12 months. CAS divided this by the full sample of Scottish workers (1009) to reach the statistic of 10 per cent.
THE YOUGOV DATA
Subsample: Scottish workers. (1009)
How often have you missed a gas/electricity payment as a result of running out of money before payday?
7% Once or twice
1% 3 to 6 times
2% More than 6 times
1% Don’t know
52% Have rarely or never run out of money before payday
The fieldwork was done in March 2019 and calculations were carried out by CAS.