Eight in ten Scottish parents 'pushed to the edge' as fuel bills rise

Organisations are calling for a lower energy bill cap, alongside more help for low-income families.

Eight in ten Scottish parents ‘pushed to the edge’ as fuel prices rise, new poll suggests iStock

Scottish parents feel “pushed to the edge” as eight in ten said they are concerned about being able to pay their gas and electricity bills over the next year, research suggests.

Parents described feeling “overwhelmed”, a “let-down” and a “failure” as cost of living pressures make it increasingly hard for them to afford essentials, research for Nesta found.

The fears come on top of the mental health legacy of the coronavirus pandemic, with almost half of parents fearful about the impact on their children.

The social innovation foundation commissioned Opinium Research to poll 1,000 parents of children aged under 18 between August 15 and 30.

The poll also found two-thirds of parents (65%) were concerned about paying for food, while 69% were concerned about paying for petrol.

Nesta said the results show how parents are being “pushed to the edge” by the crisis.

One parent said: “I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed. Childcare is rare and too expensive anyway and I have to balance that with a job and rising cost of living.

“I don’t know how I’ll cope come the winter.”

Another said: “I feel like a let-down. We haven’t had a holiday abroad and I have been working a lot so we haven’t had much time as a family either.

“I feel the children have been left alone and that makes me feel guilty and sad and a failure.”

The survey also found that 49% of parents were concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their child’s mental health.

Parents also expressed concern at the long-term impact of the pandemic, with 53% worried about the time their child lost in education due to nursery or school closures.

A total of 80% said they were “very” or “fairly” concerned about paying for gas and electricity over the next year.

Adam Lang, head of Nesta in Scotland, said: “These findings are stark and deeply alarming. It’s clear that families across Scotland are at a financial cliff edge.

“With this many people worried both about their children’s mental health and being able to pay for basic human necessities like warmth, food and transport, urgent action is needed to mitigate the worst of this social and economic emergency.

“We need to see a response from both the UK and Scottish governments on a par with the pandemic.

“One that acts urgently to limit the impact of the energy price rises and mobilises support from across sectors to provide immediate and direct help for the most vulnerable.

“Families are caught in a perfect storm of consequences from both the legacy of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

“They need more support now to help manage the months ahead.”

The organisation is calling for a lower energy bill cap, and more help for low-income families and for children who have fallen behind at school.

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