Families across Scotland are having to choose between heating and eating, Energy Action Scotland reveals in a new fuel poverty awareness campaign.
Energy Action Scotland was established in 1983, EAS seeks to develop and promote effective solutions to the problem of cold, damp and expensive to heat homes.
Frazer Scott of the Glasgow-based charity reported to STV News that local food banks were reporting food banks asking for ‘cold packs’. Cold packs are parcels that can be eaten without the need of heat, suggesting that those families can no longer afford to oven cook or microwave meals.
Frazer said “Right now, 600,000 households in Scotland live in cold and damp homes and it isn’t fair that more than 25 per cent of all Scottish households have to make choices every single day between heating or eating.
More has to be done for households with all-electric homes. They on average pay £600 more than a house in Scotland which has gas and electricity to live a similar life.
We need to get a balance of benefits and support in place to help lift them out of fuel poverty.
Fuel poverty kills six a day in winter – that’s a disgrace”
The group have been actively delivering lower-energy pressure cookers to housing associations, an incentive that can save as much as 70% off typical cooking bills, and recently teamed up with celebrity Masterchef Gary Maclean to promote a campaign to distribute more pressure cookers to those most in need.
UK households are deemed to be living in fuel poverty if the home has a fuel poverty energy efficiency rating of band D or below or if, when they spend the required amount to heat their home, they are left with a residual income below the official poverty line.
The official poverty line is when households’ income is 60 per cent below the median household income after housing costs for that year.
Fuel Poverty in Scotland Statistics
Fuel poverty is not a recent symptom of the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, although the numbers of people affected by fuel poverty have undoubtedly grown as families struggle to make ends eat while one or both parents are unemployed, or are furloughed.
A 2019 Scottish Government commissioned survey found that 613,000 households were living in fuel poverty, 311,000 of those were classified as having extreme fuel poverty.
In July 2020, the UK-wide End Fuel Poverty Coalition predicted that as the numbers in fuel poverty soared, a second wave striking during colder weather could be catastrophic for individuals and health services.
Earlier in 2021, the Resolution Foundation reported that many homes across the UK had fallen behind on their rent and mortgage payments.
As a result of people being made redundant during the pandemic, or furloughed as part of the Job Retention Scheme, many people are falling into a cycle of debt where they are using credit to fund general living expenses, including priority bills such as council tax but with limited funds available, this often means that something needs to give. Increasing the likeliness of fuel poverty, or food poverty.
Food poverty rates in the UK are amongst the highest in Europe reported the Big Issue earlier this month. Research into food poverty by the University of West Scotland found that the Coronavirus pandemic has aggregated food insecurity. Their report entitled ‘food insecurity in times of Covid-19‘ found that Food insecurity across the UK had been on the rise before the Coronavirus pandemic and that is was clear that the pandemic itself led to a further rise.
Food insecurity is a wider term used to describe food poverty and varies in levels from mild food insecurity; worrying about the ability to obtain food to severe food insecurity; experiencing hunger.
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