The coalition said that a few months’ time was set to see a “perfect storm” of cold homes, high winter fuel bills and a future wave of COVID-19 hitting the health service. Cold temperatures can lower resistance to respiratory illnesses.
Fuel poverty is caused by low income, high fuel prices, poor energy efficiency, unaffordable housing and poor quality private rental housing. Around 25 per cent of Scottish households - 619,000 - are believed to be in fuel poverty, according to the latest figures from charity Energy Action Scotland.
William Baker, spokesman for Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty and a member of the Coalition, said: “It has never been more important for the government to fix the roof while the sun is shining.
“While it is summer now, colder temperatures are on the way and hundreds of thousands more people will feel the harsh reality of fuel poverty. In just a few months we could see a perfect storm of cold homes, high winter fuel bills and a future wave of COVID-19 hitting the NHS during winter – a period when it always struggles to maintain services.”
The Scottish definition of fuel poverty is if the household’s fuel costs are more than 10 per cent of the household’s adjusted net income - and after deducting these fuel costs, benefits received for a care need or disability, childcare costs, the household’s remaining income is not enough to maintain an acceptable standard of living.
Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch.com, said: “This warning about fuel poverty is a sobering reminder of the less obvious, but equally dangerous, fallout from the Covid-19 crisis.
“People have been using more energy than usual during lockdown, with the average household predicted to rack up an extra £195 a year in energy bills.”She said: “For many people - especially the vulnerable - this extra cost will be a lot to bear, potentially forcing them to choose between heating or eating.”
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