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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Average households are now in danger of being classed as “fuel poor” a Scottish Government report has warned.

Figures for 2010 showed there were 658,000 households who were classed as being in fuel poverty, meaning they have to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on energy.

That is down from the previous year’s total of 766,000.

But the Fuel Poverty Evidence Review, which looked at the extent of the problem across the country, estimated this would increase by seven per cent in 2011 to more than 800,000.

It also warned that the proportion of household income spent on fuel would also rise, pushing average households into fuel poverty this year.

While the actual figures for fuel poverty in 2011 are not available until later this year, the report stated: “Fuel poverty projections for 2011, based on modelled data, estimate a rise of seven per cent from 2010 figures.

“It is projected that over 800,000 Scottish households (35 per cent) were fuel poor in 2011.”

Norman Kerr, director of the national fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland said: “With an increasing section of the population at risk of fuel poverty, the UK Government needs to work with the energy companies to restructure how energy is priced.

“They also need to examine how energy efficiency initiatives are funded and delivered so that there is a stop to the constant loading of levies onto our fuel bills.”

The report states that if five-year trends in the fuel poverty ratio continue, it is projected that the Scottish mean fuel spend will exceed 10 per cent on average by 2012, steadily rising to 12 per cent by 2015, pushing the average household into fuel poverty from 2012.

Kerr added: “No matter who provides assistance to help people reduce expenditure on their fuel bills, there needs to be much greater promotion and awareness-raising of that help.

“In particular, agencies and public sector support workers need to have the vital information that can make a real difference to the clients they deal with who are in fuel poverty.”

The report was published at the same time as figures from the Scottish Government showed tens of thousands of homes had benefited from improved insulation.

Over the last three years a total of 62,000 homes have had loft insulation fitted, 25,000 have had cavity wall insulation and more than 54,000 have been referred for new central heating systems and insulation under the Scottish Government’s home insulation scheme and its universal home insulation scheme.

Having both loft insulation and cavity wall insulation can save households up to £280 from fuel bills.

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil said: “Scotland is an energy-rich nation and no-one should have to choose between heating and eating.

“That is why we are continuing to lobby the UK Government to take a firmer stance with energy companies – encouraging them to cut their prices in order to help boost household incomes.”

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