New campaign encourages the public to seek advice as people deal with anxiety over heating their homes.
Millions of people across Scotland are worried and anxious about energy bills and the cost of living this winter, new analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has found.
Analysis from the charity of polling from YouGov has found that, as a result of public discussions about rising energy costs 38% of adults in Scotland - an estimated 1.7million - feel anxious or worried about being able to pay their energy bills
The same amount are anxious or worried about adequately heating their home, while 62% - around 2.8m people - are anxious or worried about the cost of living overall, not just energy bills.
Analysis of CAS data published earlier this month shows that 1 in 10 energy cases the CAB network deals with also require food insecurity advice.
The charity is now launching Big Energy Saving Winter, a campaign encouraging people worried about energy bills and the cost of living to seek advice.
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive, Derek Mitchell, said: “People are understandably really worried this winter about energy bills and the cost of living. That is why the Citizens Advice network is running Big Energy Saving Winter.
“We are here for anyone who feels scared, alone or worried about bills this winter. It is easy to think there is no help out there for you, but CAB advisers get real results - on average over £4,200 for those who saw a financial gain. That can be life changing money for people and this winter it could be life saving money for people.
“The CAB network is for everyone – whether you are working or not, own your home or rent, retired or a student. We don’t judge peoples circumstances, we just want to help.
“Our advice is free, impartial and confidential. In this cost of living crisis, it costs nothing to check our advice, so people should visit www.cas.org.uk/besw to find out more.”
People can get advice in a number of ways, including one to one advice from their local CAB, or a range of online options including the interactive self-help tool Money Map, the Money Talk Team service or the public advice site. CAS is encouraging people to visit www.cas.org.uk/besw to find out more.
Last year across the CAB network unlocked £132million for people, with average gain for clients who saw one being over £4,200.
Social Justice Secretary, Shona Robison MSP, said: "We are very concerned about the hardship people are facing right now particularly with their energy bills. This is why we're providing almost £3 billion in this financial year to help households face the increased cost of living, including £1 billion in providing services and financial support not available elsewhere in the UK.
"Through our funding for the Money Talk Team service, people can get free and confidential advice on boosting income, accessing benefits, and dealing with debt. I would urge anyone struggling with their finances to seek advice. The Money Talk Team is available across the length and breadth of Scotland, with advice accessible online and in all Citizens Advice Bureaux.”
Consumer Scotland chief executive, Sam Ghibaldan, added: “With the current cost of living crisis and ongoing concern about rising energy bills, this campaign comes at a crucial time for households throughout Scotland.
“Our own research shows many consumers are struggling to afford their bills even before the onset of winter, so it is important consumers know help and support is available.
“We are pleased to support this campaign to ensure consumers have access to a range of information, including advice on their energy bills and financial support.”