Nearly 900,000 Scottish households are struggling to heat their homes as 10% of families are unable to afford energy bills, according to new research by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
CAS found that 583,000 Scottish households are living in relative fuel poverty, while 293,000 households are in “extreme” fuel poverty.
A poll by YouGov, on behalf of CAS, found that 7% of households are running out of money each month before fuel bills are due to be paid. And 2% of households who took part in the survey said this had happened more than six times.
Jamie Stewart, CAS energy spokesman, said: “The CAS 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 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 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 bills, we need a multi-faceted approach from policy makers, Government and industry.”
He continued: “We hope the Fuel Poverty Bill 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, 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.”