New figures have shown that an alarming number of households in Ayrshire are living in fuel poverty.
The figures, from Energy Action Scotland (EAS), say 23 per cent of households in South Ayrshire are deemed as ‘fuel poor.’
But the figure for East Ayrshire is even worse – with 27 per cent of households struggling to pay their fuel bills.
North Ayrshire tops the region’s fuel poor list with 28 per cent of households affected by the issue.
The stats are contained in a new report from EAS and have been geographically captured for the first time.
Topping the list is the Western Isles, where 40 per cent of households struggle to pay their fuel bills, compared to just 13 per cent in affluent East Renfrewshire.
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Fuel poverty is defined by the Scottish Government as any household spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy – after housing costs have been deducted.
The Scottish average was 24 per cent of all households.
“It’s maybe not surprising to most people that the Western Isles is the most fuel-poor part of the country given the inclement weather conditions, dependence on electric heating and low levels of energy efficiency but the extent of the problem is alarming,” said EAS’s chief executive Frazer Scott.
“Two in every five households cannot afford to heat their home is something that needs to be addressed urgently,”
EAS is now urging the UK Government 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.
Mr Scott said: “This is not a problem that is going away; it is only likely to get worse.
“We estimate that as prices rocket over 100,000 more households will seriously struggle to heat their homes.
“We urgently need more government action to improve the energy efficiency of homes across the country but particularly targeted at households that suffer the greatest rates of fuel poverty.”
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.
Mr Scott added: “Continued inaction will cost lives. Over 2,000 more people die in winter when cold damp homes reduces health and wellbeing than they do in summer.”
Meanwhile, Ayr MSP Siobhian Brown is urging people across the region to check if they are eligible for financial help from a Scottish Government scheme aimed at tackling fuel poverty.
Warmer Homes Scotland has supported those across the Ayr constituency since 2015 – with homes saving an average of £240.37 a year on their energy bills.
The scheme provides a step-by-step service to identify where energy improvements can be made in the home, such as new central heating systems or air source heat pumps, and arranges for this work to be carried out by registered tradesmen.
It is open to homeowners or tenants of private landlords.
Ms Brown said: “I’m pleased to learn that the Warmer Homes Scotland scheme has supported 370 people across my constituency since 2015.
“However, the reality is that many more may be eligible for help to make their homes warmer, greener, and more comfortable. I would encourage everyone to check their eligibility as the improvements the scheme offers could make a real difference financially now and in years to come.”
Warmworks Scotland managing director Ross Armstrong said: “The Warmer Homes Scotland scheme has been helping people right across Scotland feel warmer and more comfortable in their homes for six years.”
To find out more, go to https://www.homeenergyscotland.org/find-funding-grants-and-loans/warmer-homes-scotland/
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