Fuel poverty warning as energy bills ‘rise by £32 a month’

Citizens Advice Scotland said rising costs as a result of Covid-19 could ‘fall heaviest on those least able to pay’.

Radiator: Those struggling to pay energy bills are being encouraged to seek help. Pixabay
Radiator: Those struggling to pay energy bills are being encouraged to seek help.

People struggling with rising energy costs during the coronavirus lockdown are being encouraged to seek help, as a study finds average bills are up by £32 a month.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said one in four households north of the border were already in fuel poverty before the crisis hit.

A household which must spend more than 10% of its income after housing on energy is said to be fuel poor.

A UK-wide survey found 72% of households have seen an increase in their energy usage since the lockdown began.

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Research by Populus for comparethemarket.com found households could be facing a 37% rise in their energy bills, equating to  £32.31 per month on average, or £387 over the year.

CAS energy spokeswoman Kate Morrison said: “Even before the outbreak of Covid-19, hundreds of thousands of people were already struggling with energy bills, with one in four households in Scotland in fuel poverty.

“What the coronavirus crisis does in addition to increasing energy usage for those at home is create an uncertainty and insecurity of income for furloughed workers.

“There is a real risk these higher prices will fall heaviest on those least able to pay.

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“This is compounded by the fact that while switching can help in many cases, it won’t be an option for everyone.”

She continued: “Both the Scottish and UK governments have put in place a range of measures to boost incomes during the crisis, and we would encourage people to seek help if they are struggling to cope with their bills.

“The Citizens Advice network in Scotland is still helping people during this outbreak, with local bureaux providing advice over the phone or email, as well as our online advice and national helpline.

“People can get advice on their energy bills or to claim additional support.”

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