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Families on edge as cost of living crisis continues to hit

This news post is 10 months old
 

Analysis by Citizens Advice Scotland warned of the rising number of households seeking help with energy bills.

A Scottish charity has warned that thousands of Scots are “holding on by their fingertips” as the cost of living crisis continues to hit the most vulnerable across the country. 

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said on Monday that governments should put in place emergency funding and support to mitigate the predicted rise in energy bills. 

Experts have consistently warned that gas and electricity bills are set to rise by nearly 50 per cent to £1,900 a year, with concerns this could lead to a stark rise in the use of food banks. 

The calls come ahead of the anticipated increase in the energy price cap in April, with plans finalised by industry regulator Ofgem this week. 

CAS’ chief executive, Derek Mitchell, said the government must put in place a package of measures to help struggling families. 

These include, increasing social security support and benefit take-up, encouraging fair work practices, and making the Scottish Welfare Fund more accessible.

He told the Daily Record: “We are facing a nightmare scenario in the spring as the rising cost of living and increases in energy bills collide with flat or falling incomes.

“Around half a million people are already cutting back on food shopping to deal with unaffordable bill, and looking at the demand for advice the Citizens Advice network saw during the pandemic, we see a link between the need to use a food bank and the need for advice around utilities.

“People are holding on by their fingertips, they can’t afford a big rise in bills with no support.”

Analysis by CAS found that 30 per cent of those approaching the service for advice on food bank use also needed advice on utilities. 

Over 2,000 people needed advice in relation to both food banks and utilities, with previous research released by the advice service claiming that almost half a million people in Scotland were cutting back on food shopping because of unaffordable energy bills. 

The charity has also seen rising demand for energy advice, with CAS data from last year revealing a 53 per cent increase in the number of those approaching the network in the 18 months from February 2020. 

Mr Mitchell said: “People who are struggling should know that we are here for them. The Citizens Advice network helped over 171,000 people during the pandemic, unlocking around £147 million in the process. For energy advice alone people who saw a gain were around £272 better off. 

“Around half a million people are already cutting back on food shopping to deal with unaffordable bill, and looking at the demand for advice the Citizens Advice network saw during the pandemic, we see a link between the need to use a food bank and the need for advice around utilities.

“While we are seeing an unprecedented crisis in the energy market driving these increases, the need for food banks predates this and is simply unacceptable. No one should have to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.”

 

Comments

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Dominic Notarangelo
10 months ago

So, within the last decade Citizens Advice operated the 'Citizens Advice Consumer Service" and the 'Extra help unit', at the behest of Government. These work streams were Government Funded with money levied from the energy sector. Citizens Advice Scotland were outbid by one of their own members who now run these work streams. Neither organisation appears to hve done much to avoid the current state of affairs with utilities, all of which was entirely predicable. A bit much to be complaining having lost the contract.