Rural Scots households AND young, urban renters most likely to suffer fuel poverty

Citizens Advice Scotland today publishes a new research into fuel poverty in Scotland, looking specifically at which households are most affected and what kind of support they need.  

The research has found that certain types of household are more likely to struggle to heat their homes affordably: including people in rented flats, those in rural homes, younger people and those who use electric heating.

The report – Speaking Up: Understanding Fuel Poverty Support Needs – also finds that those most in need of support are those least likely to access it.

CAS Energy spokesman Craig Salter said: “This research comes at a crucial time, with fuel poverty rates in Scotland still unacceptably high and energy prices continuing to rise at several times the rate of inflation.

“Positive steps are being taken by the Scottish Government to introduce a more accurate definition of fuel poverty and develop a new strategy to eradicate it.

“However for this strategy to succeed, it must reflect the real experiences and support needs of those who are actually in fuel poverty.”

The research was conducted for CAS in 2017 by Ipsos Mori and Bill Sheldrick of Alembic Research. It included secondary analysis of Scottish Household Survey data as well as qualitative interviews with fuel poor households.

The Scot-Govt yesterday provided a total of £2 million to be shared among 15 local cooncils in Scotland to help boost energy-efficiency schemes. This works out an average of just over £130,000 per council.

Meanwhile, UK regulator OFGEM has warned suppliers over forcible prepayment meter installations.

Suppliers must only install prepayment meters by force to recover debt as a last resort.

But OFGEM has warned that some suppliers are using such tactics too often

Suppliers installed 84,000 prepayment meters under warrant to recover customers’ debt last year led by British Gas, Ovo Energy and Utility Warehouse.

Last year the total number of prepayment meters installed under warrant granted by a court to recover customer debt rose from 81,000 to 84,000 compared to 2016. This works out at an increase of 6.9% (42,283) and 2.41% (42,037) for gas and electricity prepayment meters respectively.

Three suppliers forcibly installed a much higher proportion of meters per head for their newly indebted customers than the industry average – Utility Warehouse (around five times more), British Gas (around double the industry average) and Ovo Energy (around a third more).

Energy suppliers must identify customers who are in or at risk of debt, and engage with them early to put them on manageable repayment plans. Prepayment meters must only be installed by force in a customer’s home using a warrant obtained by a court order as a last resort.

Earlier this year, OFGEM banned forcible installations for the most vulnerable and capped charges at £150 and expects such installations amongst all suppliers to come down next year.

19 Jun 2018

 

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