850,000 Households in Fuel Poverty Despite Resources
30th November was Fuel Poverty Awareness Day. People in Scotland are grappling with the distressing reality of living in fuel poverty – having to deal with the rising energy prices and the effects that fuel poverty has on lives.
The SNP Scottish Government is prioritising people’s lives and initiating support because no person should have to choose between being warm or feeding their children.
The rising cost of living is drastically exacerbating fuel poverty and Westminster has completely failed to protect families. Instead of making people’s lives better, Westminster is making the lives of people in Scotland continuously worse.
In fact, due to Westminster’s careless and inhumane austerity policies, Westminster is pushing more people in Scotland into fuel poverty, for example from 1 January 2024 the price for energy for a typical household who uses gas and electricity will go up by £94.
The energy price cap will take the price cap from £1,834 to £1,928 per year, and there is no excuse for this to be happening.
People are struggling and already suffering at the hands of the Tories’ yet their response is to make families’ lives even harder. Enough is enough.
What is Fuel Poverty?
Fuel poverty is when people can’t afford to pay for a necessary level of warmth in their home and can be determined by three factors: the household income, energy costs and energy efficiency of a home.
Around 850,000 households in Scotland, 34%, are estimated to be living in fuel poverty, which means that people are living in persistently cold homes. We all know how cold a Scottish Winter can be, and we all need warmth to not just survive but to live our day to lives without the added stress and misery of being too cold.
Fuel poverty harms people’s lives causing:
- Adverse physical health, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, bronchitis, and asthma.
- Poor mental health – fuel poverty is a known risk factor for suicide.
- Prevention of children from thriving, interrupting their school development and effecting their personal hygiene, which can lead to bullying and disrupt children’s life chances.
- Social exclusion, due to not having a warm place to congregate in a home, fuel poverty leaves families staying in their beds for warmth in the dark.
- Unsustainable levels of debt for households
- Unsafe energy rationing
Figures from National Energy Action (NEA) also show that 23% (over half a million) are living in extreme fuel poverty. The figures come almost exactly a month after it was revealed that the three constituencies facing the highest average increase in energy bills are in Scotland.
Polling by the NEA also revealed that:
- Of the 49% UK adults that had turned their heating off even though it was cold outside over the last three months, Scots were more likely to say they had done so.
- Of the 41% UK prepayment customers who were self disconnected over the last three months, Scottish households with prepayment meters were more likely to say they had done so
- Of the 43% of UK adults who had gone to bed to stay warm over the last three months, Scots were more likely to say they had done so.
But the SNP is working hard to protect people across Scotland from the Tory cost-of-living crisis by supporting people who are struggling and in fuel poverty.
The SNP are helping people with rising energy costs
First Minister Humza Yousaf has tripled the fuel insecurity fund to £30 million, delivering tailored support to tens of thousands of households.
The SNP Scottish Government is prioritising families during the cost-of-living crisis by freezing council tax for all households next year, and providing support to people through these challenging times.
Through the islands’ cost crisis emergency fund, the Scottish Government has provided an additional £1 million this year to support islanders who are facing high fuel, food and energy costs – helping them to meet the cost of living pressures.
The DWP’s Cold Weather Payment, which those on lowest incomes could only get if it was cold enough for long enough, has been replaced in Scotland. The Winter Heating Payment saw £50 paid automatically this year to the the 400,000 lowest income people, to support them with their energy bills.
In the longer term, the SNP is investing £1.6 billion to make homes across Scotland more energy efficient – helping to tackle fuel poverty and tackle the climate emergency.
Scotland would be better situated to tackle fuel poverty with the full powers of independence.
Westminster’s energy strategy is inefficient and outdated
The Tories’ privatised the UK’s energy grid in the 1980’s, and Scottish energy companies are charged ten times what English companies have to pay to connect to the grid.
The Scottish Government recently licensed a huge amount of offshore wind, and the National Grid said it had no plans to connect most of this to the grid for at least a decade.
The price of gas in the UK in October 2023 was roughly 60% higher than two years ago, while the price of electricity is now roughly 40% higher.
Westminster has held Scotland back time and time again and it is continuing to do so. We have not been able to reap the benefits of our own oil resources because Westminster strips us of the powers to utilise our energy.
But we have made vast developments in renewables and alike Scotland leading Europe in oil, and we can be a leading country in the net-zero transition through renewables.
The current ScotWind offshore wind leasing round could raise up to £860 million for the public purse, showing the benefits that can come to Scotland from owning and developing our own natural resources.
The SNP Scottish Government is making efforts to alleviate the upheaval imposed on people’s lives by Westminster. Ultimately, the path to real change involves becoming an independent country; Scotland has the energy, we just need the power, and our people deserve better than the ongoing neglect from Westminster.