A UK government report has shown today that Scottish fuel poverty is running at 32.7% while the rate in the UK as a whole is 20.1%. Responding, CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,
“The evidence has been clear for some time that Scots are more vulnerable to fuel poverty than people in other parts of the UK – not least because of the more severe weather here. We don’t think anyone in the UK should be suffering from this problem. But there can no longer be any doubt that fuel poverty in Scotland is approaching crisis levels. With one third of Scottish households unable to afford their fuel bills – and those bills still rising – this is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer. It affects people in every city, town and village in Scotland.
“Scottish CABs have long reported that this is a growing problem. They see the real human misery that exists behind these statistics. People unable to pay their fuel bills are faced with the stark choice of getting into debt, suffering the cold winter in their own homes, or having to decide whether to buy food or fuel. And indeed we feel the problem is under-estimated by these figures - there are many people whose income is just above the official fuel poverty level. They too struggle to cope with high fuel bills.
“Anyone who is concerned about their finances can get free, confidential and impartial advice from their local CAB. We don’t have magic a wand unfortunately and so we can’t change the reality of high fuel bills or low incomes. But we can advise you on how to best manage your finances, and perhaps intercede on your behalf with the fuel companies if you are in dispute with them.
“But in the longer term, this is a problem that requires political action. We call on the governments in both London and Edinburgh to make clear what they intend to do to to help people who are in fuel poverty now, and to halt the growth of the problem before it affects even more of our fellow citizens.”
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