Middle-earning Scottish household will start struggling to heat and power their homes from this year thanks to large hikes in energy costs, according to an official study. The number of homes north of the Border in “fuel poverty” is expected to have increased rapidly to 800,000 last year – more than a third of the total – thanks to rising energy bills.
If heating and electricity prices continue to spiral at the same rate, the report found that the “median household” in Scotland will find it difficult to afford their bills from this year.
It is projected that middle-class Scots will be spending 12 per cent of their income paying for electricity and heating by 2015, but the Tories warned the SNP’s focus on expensive wind power would make the situation worse.
Although ministers have focused the efforts on helping people on benefits, the study found that more than a third (38 per cent) of those in fuel poverty are middle class or wealthy.
Fuel poverty is defined as a household spending more than 10 per cent of its income on energy bills. The Scottish Government has promised to eradicate the scourge “as far as is reasonably practical” by 2016.
However, the study suggested this is a forlorn hope, noting that energy bills have risen at the six times the rate of household income in recent years. British Gas, which includes Scottish Gas, recently reported profits of £2 million a day.
Alex Neil, the SNP Infrastructure Minister, said: “Scotland is an energy rich nation and no one should have to choose between heating and eating.