Almost a third of Scots ‘rationed power use during pandemic’

Research found 58% of Scots have seen an increase in their energy bills since last March.

Almost a third of Scots ‘rationed power use during pandemic’ iStock
Rationing: Scots found their power bills had increased during the pandemic.

More than half of Scots have seen their energy bills rise during the Covid-19 pandemic, with almost a third saying they had to start “rationing” the amount of power they use.

Research for consumer organisation Advice Direct Scotland found 58% of Scots have seen an increase in their energy bills since last March.

The study, by pollsters at Survation, also found 30% have had to resort to rationing their energy use.

It comes as more people are spending more time at home, either on furlough or working for home, with parents also having to contend with periods of home schooling.

The Scottish Government’s home heating support fund was set up with the aim of providing financial support to those at risk of self-rationing energy usage – by for example reducing washing or heating – due to hardship.

The grant scheme, which ran earlier this year, provided £878,000 to those in need of assistance – with 1208 households helped whose energy debts were calculated at just under £1m.

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “Many households have experienced greater financial hardship as a direct result of the pandemic.

“This poll shows that more than half of Scots have seen their energy bills increase, and nearly a third have rationed their usage over the past year.

“Working in partnership with the Scottish Government to deliver the home heating support fund has served to alleviate the hardships experienced by those worst affected.”

The survey also found 23% of Scots have never compared prices from an alternative energy supplier, and Advice Direct Scotland has now launched an online site with practical help and information on energy-related matters.

This ranges from supplier inquiries, understanding the complaints process and what to do if experiencing problems with energy bills.

Mr Bartlett said he hopes the energyadvice.scot website will “make things easier for hundreds of thousands of Scots consumers, reduce fuel poverty, and help energy suppliers deliver for their customers”.