A Lanarkshire-based charity is calling on the UK Government to take urgent action and extend emergency support for families as energy prices soar.
Following Ofgem’s announcements of an average £700 or 54 per cent increase in energy bills, Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Scotland want increased support for low income households hit hardest by the pending energy price cap rise in April.
As the nation braces itself for the impact of the price hike, new research from the Post Office reveals a nation already in the grip of a food poverty and energy crisis.
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With inflation at an all-time high, research has shown that – in the last 12 months – 30 per cent of Scots have had to make the choice between eating a meal and heating their home on a monthly basis.
CAP national director, Emma Jackson, told us: “This is a really difficult situation that will see us all paying more for our energy.
“But for those on a low income or already struggling in debt, this will be devastating.
“We don’t want to see more people forced to go without or being pushed into problem debt because they aren’t able to pay their bills.
“We are deeply concerned about how low income families, like the ones we support at CAP Scotland, will be able to manage.
“Too many households will be faced with the impossible choice of heating or eating.”
The government last week outlined an energy rebate scheme, giving people £200 off their bills which then has to paid back in installations over five years from 2023.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s scheme would see “billions of pounds” handed to energy companies, before families have to pay it back.
Emma added: “The support package announced by the UK Government will provide some relief.
“However, we are concerned this package of support only covers half the energy price increase households are facing on average. More assistance is needed to stop low income households in Scotland falling into greater fuel poverty.”
East Kilbride-based CAP aims to reduce poverty by delivering free debt help, money management education, life skills courses and job clubs, all through local churches.
They want to see the £200 energy rebate paid in April, not October, which will be “too late” for many households already struggling.
They also suggest a more significant increase in the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which would allow financial assistance to be delivered quickly, and provide households with additional support right away.
CAP are also asking the UK Government for a six per cent increase in benefit rates in April which will allow payments to keep pace with the unusually steep rise in inflation, and help low-income households meet the higher cost of living across all consumer areas.
If you are struggling with debt and need help, get in contact with CAP today on 0800 328 0006 or visit capscotland.org .
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