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Scots turn off energy to pay for food and other houshold essentials


Cost-of-living crisis continues to worsen

Huge numbers of Scots are restricting gas and electricity usage because they fear being able to afford food and other costs.

Advice Direct Scotland, the national advice service, is now calling on the UK government to use this Wednesday’s budget to introduce an opt-out social tariff which would automatically put struggling households on the cheapest deal.

A poll found that three quarters of Scots remain concerned about being able to afford gas and electricity this year, despite recent price falls, and there is widespread support across the country for a new social energy tariff.

The Survation survey found that 76% of adults in Scotland have either slightly or significantly limited their energy use over the past 12 months.

Half said they ‘sometimes’ feel cold in their own home as a result, and a further 24% said they ‘often’ feel cold.

While regulator Ofgem will drop its cap on the amount suppliers are able to charge by £1,928 to £1,690 from April 1, this is still £552 more than what households were charged before the energy crisis hit in the autumn of 2021.

The poll of more than 1,000 people in Scotland found that 57% are worried about being able to afford electricity, gas, or oil over the coming year.

And 11% of Scots admitted they are behind on their energy bills, with some struggling with debts of more than £1,000, while more than half of those with a prepayment meter (57%) said the cost of energy has often or sometimes caused them to run out of funds to keep it topped up.

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “This poll indicates that hundreds of thousands of Scots are limiting their energy use so they can afford to pay for other goods such as food, and are left suffering in the cold in their own homes as a result.

“For those on prepayment meters, the cost of energy has left many unable to afford a top-up, often leaving people in debt.

“While bills might have fallen from their recent peak, they still remain high – and a majority of Scots are worried about being able to afford this over the coming year.

“These findings confirm that the UK’s energy market is broken, and we need an opt-out social energy tariff to help the most vulnerable households.

“This has widespread public support, and the Chancellor should use this week’s budget to act.”

Hazel Knowles, energy lead for Advice Direct Scotland, added: "Even with gas and electricity prices falling, bills remain significantly higher than they were before the cost-of-living crisis.

“It's a good time to assess your current payments and check if there are any better options available.
"Taking regular meter readings and checking the level of your direct debit are as important as ever, and if you have a smart meter, ensure it’s working.

"Nobody should struggle alone, and help is available - our service provides free, practical advice on the support and assistance available, such as grants, and ensures that people can access all entitled benefits.”



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