Fuel poverty set to break the 50% barrier in parts of Scotland


8 March 2022


Fuel poverty set to break the 50% barrier in parts of Scotland

April’s energy price rises will see more than 40% of households in large parts of Scotland move into fuel poverty.

Revised figures announced by the Scottish Government show that a further 211,000 households are likely to be living in fuel poverty in the coming months, an increase of 43% on 2019 figures.

Modelling done by fuel poverty campaigners Energy Action Scotland show 57% of people living in the Western Isles will soon be spending more than 10% of their income on energy - after housing costs have been deducted – the official definition of being fuel poor.

A further 11 local authority areas will see more than two in every five homes moving into official fuel poverty.

‘These price increases will move significant proportions of our communities into official fuel poor status. On average 38% of households across the country will no longer be able to afford to heat their home adequately,’ said Energy Action Scotland’s, chief executive, Frazer Scott.

‘Although moves by governments in Scotland and Westminster to alleviate these price rises are welcome, they go nowhere near far enough.’

Energy Action Scotland is urging the UK government to tax the excessive profits being made by oil and gas giants and to cut VAT on energy bills, redistribute the VAT windfall already received to help those with the lowest incomes and consider radical reforms to ensure that vulnerable fuel poor households are protected. The UK Government will tax average dual fuel households an extra £44 through higher VAT receipts. Heaping taxes upon those that can least afford to pay them.

‘We estimated that 100,000 more households would seriously struggle to heat their homes after these price rises, unfortunately it would see this was a vast underestimate of the extent of the problem. We urgently need government action to improve the energy efficiency of homes, particularly targeted at households that suffer the greatest rates of fuel poverty. This would ensure help is being given to those that need it the most,’ said Frazer.

Industry analysts have warned that continued volatility in wholesale energy markets could push average household energy bills up by more than £700 to £2,000 a year from April.

‘Continued inaction will cost lives. Over 2000 more people die in winter when cold damp homes reduce health and wellbeing more than they do in summer. According to the World Health Organisation around 1 in 3 of these deaths are directly attributable to living in fuel poverty. These deaths are avoidable but look set to rise as prices rocket’ he added.


Graphic shows: Estimated fuel poverty by local authority area after April’s price rises.

Notes to editors:

  • Energy Action Scotland (EAS) campaigns for an end to fuel poverty in Scotland and is the only national charity with this sole remit.
  • EAS aims to develop and promote effective solutions to the problem of cold, damp and expensive to heat homes.
  • Energy Action Scotland is raising £10,000 to provide essential warmth for vulnerable people and their families struggling to heat their homes this winter. Please donate here to help buy items like duvets, hot water bottles and flasks to help keep vulnerable people warm this winter.
  • The Scottish Government published its latest Fuel Poverty Strategy on December 23, 2021
  • The most recent Scottish House Condition Survey found that between 2018 and 2019, rates of fuel poverty increased in remote rural areas from 33% to 43%. 
  • Ofgem produces figures on the elements of average energy bills. Its 1 April Price Cap includes VAT at £93.86 which is an increase of £44.24 vs the October 2020 figure. https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/energy-policy-and-regulation/policy-and-regulatory-programmes/default-tariff-cap
  • Levels of fuel poverty among households using electricity as their primary heating fuel have remained the highest, at 43%, compared to households using gas 22%, oil 28% and other fuel types 31% as their primary heating fuel in 2019. 
  • In 2019, half of Scottish homes had an Energy Efficiency Rating of 67 or higher which is no improvement on the previous year.
  • The Scottish Government target of reducing fuel poverty is for it to be to no more than 15% by 2030 and 5% by 2040
  • Fuel poverty increase estimates of 43% occurring at 1 April 2022 were announced by Kate Forbes on Thursday 10 February. 874,000 households in fuel poverty including 593,000 in extreme fuel poverty

For more information please contact Kate Cunningham, Communications & Public Affairs Manager on 07880 733644 kate.cunningham@eas.org.uk